U.S. Brands Could Gain $27 Billion in 2011 by Bringing Consumers Simpler Experiences and Interactions

February 16, 2011

Siegel+Gale’s Global Brand Simplicity Index™ Ranks Top Brands Consumers Deem Most Simple

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 16, 2011 – Despite a still challenging economy, American consumers say they are willing to pay $27 billion more for brands that deliver simpler products, services and experiences. This is a key finding of the first annual Global Brand Simplicity Index™, released today by global strategic branding firm, Siegel+Gale. This survey of more than 6,000 consumers across seven countries uncovered the perceived points of complexity and simplicity in people’s lives, as well as the Simplicity Premium™, the added value people would place on having a more simplified, more intuitive experience with brands in multiple areas of their lives.

In terms of willingness to pay more for simpler products and experiences, brands in the health insurance industry stand to gain the most – at an estimated $6 billion. Across all industries, U.S. consumers are willing to pay between 4 to 6 percent more for brands they believe offer the greatest degree of simplicity. In some countries including India, China and the UAE, respondents said they would be willing to pay up to 8, or even 10 percent more for greater simplicity.

According to the survey, the U.S. restaurant and retail grocery industries are seen as simplest in their interactions and communications with people. The mortgage, credit card and insurance industries are rated as most complex and least clear. Retailer Netflix was perceived as the brand offering the simpliest customer experience.

Technology and electronics, while among the simpler industries, ranked as more complex in the U.S. than in most of the other countries surveyed. For example, technology and electronics is ranked in fourth place for simplicity in the U.S., versus ranking first in Middle Eastern countries such as United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and second in India. Surprising among the survey’s technology findings was the absence of Apple on the U.S. Brand Simplicity Index™ top 10, with brands such as Canon, HP and Dell ranking higher.

Capturing the Value of Simplicity

To pinpoint the role and value of simplicity in consumers’ lives, the Siegel+Gale survey examined respondents’ answers to the following types of questions:

  • How complex or simple do people feel their lives are? Over the years, how has this changed?
  • What business sectors contribute most to making people’s lives simpler or more complex?
  • What brands are clearest and simplest in their communications and interactions with consumers?
  • What value do simple communications/interactions provide to consumers?

Motivated by the power of simplicity to help organizations realize their true potential, Siegel+Gale used the survey results to develop the first ever Global Brand Simplicity Index™ which generates a Simplicity Score™—a rating of each brand and its category on the elements of the simplicity methodology. Siegel+Gale defines simplicity as ease of understanding, transparency, caring, innovation and usefulness of communications, as well as how painful typical interactions are in relation to industry peers.

The U.S. Brand Simplicity Index™ top 10 brands include:

Key survey findings from respondents revealed that the top brands on the Global Brand Simplicity Index™ make people’s lives simpler by:

  • Communicating directly, clearly and without jargon
  • Reducing stress by providing savings/value
  • Saving time by increased convenience and accessibility
  • Facilitating ease of use and interactions
  • Enabling consumers to get more from life: deeper relationships, easier lifestyles

Further validating the simplicity in the restaurant and retail grocery industries, one respondent said, “Walmart makes my life easier by having a pharmacy where I can pick up prescriptions and some groceries at the same time.” Another comment regarding McDonald’s, “Food is simple. It does not need to be explained using technical jargon.”

“From ‘plain language’ initiatives within the Federal government, to the obvious role of complexity in fueling the financial crisis, there is a growing imperative to simplify communications of all kinds,” says David Srere, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief strategy officer. “It’s essential that brands step up to this challenge across all touch-points with consumers.”

“This survey identifies the industries, consumer segments and geographies where it’s possible to differentiate and command a price premium based on simplicity,” said Howard Belk, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief creative officer. “If industries like mortgage, credit card and insurance want to regain consumer trust and thrive in this tough environment, they need to take a hard look at the negative repercussions of complexity.”

Key survey findings from respondents revealed that the lowest rated brands on the Global Brand Simplicity Index make people’s lives more complex by:

  • Communicating in ways that are hard to understand and/or are perceived as deceitful
  • Being perceived as intentionally overcharging consumers
  • Being seen as ‘niche’ or for too select of an audience/poorly accessible
  • Being found difficult to interact with, with poor customer service experiences and/or hard to use interfaces

Review the full survey report here.

About the Global Brand Simplicity Index™

Siegel+Gale’s Global Brand Simplicity Index™ is an output of global brand ratings based on an online survey of more than 6,000 consumers in seven different countries. Each rating comprises the simplicity/complexity of a brand’s interactions and communications in relation to their industry peers. The index also incorporates an industry simplicity score for a particular brand’s industry/category(ies).


About Siegel+Gale

Siegel+Gale is a global strategic branding firm committed to building world-class brands through elegantly simple, unexpectedly fresh strategies, stories and experiences. With Simple is Smart as its operating philosophy, Siegel+Gale delivers powerful services in brand development, simplification, research, and digital strategy.

Since its founding by branding pioneer Alan Siegel in 1969, Siegel+Gale has helped drive business results for brands such as Aetna, American Express, Bank of America, China Youth Development Foundation, Dell, Dow Chemical Company, The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, The Internal Revenue Service, The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Microsoft, Motorola, Pfizer, Qatar Telecom, SAP, Sony PlayStation, Yahoo! and the YMCA.

Siegel+Gale has offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Hamburg, Dubai, Shanghai and Beijing and strategic partnerships around the world as a member of the Omnicom Group of companies.

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