U.S. Consumers Rank Online Shopping #1 in Simplicity, New Survey Says

December 6, 2011

Technology Brands Rank in Top 3; General Insurance and Health Insurance Brands Seen as “Most Complicated” in Siegel+Gale’s Second Annual Global Brand Simplicity Index™

NEW YORK, DECEMBER 6, 2011 –While shoppers rank online retail as the simplest industry, Internet retailers basking in record sales on Cyber Monday can achieve even stronger results through less complex return policies and by providing ways to easily identify the highest quality items. Those online shopping brands that offer increased simplicity in their communications and experiences stand to capture more than $1.1 billion in revenues.

These are among the findings from global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale’s second annual Global Brand Simplicity Index™, which surveyed more than 6,000 consumers across seven countries to uncover perceived points of complexity and simplicity in people’s lives.

Within the Internet retail industry, Amazon, Zappos and iTunes are among the leaders in providing customers with simple interactions and experiences online. Consumers benefit from easy price comparison, free shipping and a streamlined selection process funneled through customized communications.

Of the top 10 simplest brands in the U.S., the first three are Internet companies: Netflix, Google and Amazon. Netflix was picked as the simplest brand in the survey after it announced price hikes but before the announcement of the formation of Qwikster, which was subsequently reversed. In the wake of these missteps, mass subscriber departures followed.

“Netflix has built its company around a unique brand voice that highlights simplicity and accessibility, but now its customers are confused and disappointed by the company’s inability to communicate clearly and honestly,” said Howard Belk, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief creative officer. “This survey demonstrates that brands that put a premium on simpler and more transparent user experiences and interactions inspire confidence and generate customer loyalty.”

Also among the top-ranked simplest brands are retailers Target, Publix, Whole Foods Market and shipping giant UPS. Rounding out the top 10 are fast food purveyors SUBWAY, McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, which were among the leaders in the 2010 survey.

Siegel+Gale used the survey results to develop the 2011 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 complex and complicated typical interactions are in relation to industry peers.

The 2011 U.S. Brand Simplicity Index™ top 10 brands include:

In the U.S., brands ranked from a high of 910 (leaders) to a low of 217(laggards).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, general insurance and health insurance are considered the most complex by U.S. consumers. Healthcare is at the very bottom of the Simplicity Index, with respondents seeing little difference between one carrier and another and citing challenges to understanding which services and treatments are covered by insurance.

Retail banking is still considered a complex industry, coming in 15th on the list of 25 industries. While there is certainly room for improvement, banks like Chase are making critical investments in simplicity, such as providing customers with the ability to make check deposits from smartphones. Other simplifying factors include easy-to-use websites with 24/7 access, convenient branch locations and short wait times on telephone help lines.

Despite the recognized ease of use and simplified experience with online retail brands, the social media space is considered more complex, ranking 19th out of 25 industries. Among the most well-known brands in social media, LinkedIn appeared in the bottom 10 and Twitter in the bottom 20. According to one respondent, “LinkedIn won't let me in and won't let me leave, and that is really complex.”

Across all industries, U.S. consumers are willing to pay between 2.4 and 5.3 percent more—a Simplicity Premium™—for brands they believe offer the greatest degree of simplicity. U.S. businesses could also benefit from the power of simplicity, as they are leaving more than $20.1 billion on the table by not providing simpler interactions and experiences. The health insurance industry stands to capture the most in lost revenues, more than $4.3 billion.

“It is time for brands across all industries to recognize that communicating in a clear, direct and straightforward manner generates a high level of customer loyalty and, ultimately, profit,” said David Srere, Siegel+Gale co-CEO and chief strategy officer. “Consumers are demanding simplicity in all of their interactions, and those organizations that can satisfy this demand will be able to compete—and thrive—in today’s competitive marketplace.”

Read the full report now.

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About the 2011 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). The annual research study was first conducted in 2010.

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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