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Marriott Tops Brand Intimacy List

NEW YORK—The hospitality and theme parks industry ranked tenth out of 15 industries studied in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions. Universal Theme Parks came in first in the industry, followed by Disney Parks and Marriott. The remaining brands in the Top 10 for the hospitality and theme parks industry were Hilton, Holiday Inn, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Days Inn, Sheraton and Hyatt.

Brand intimacy is defined as a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand. For the third year, MBLM’s study revealed that top intimate brands in the U.S. surpassed the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years.

“Brands in the hospitality and theme parks industry are being commoditized and disintermediated. They continue to struggle in effectively building intimate bonds with consumers,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM. “Yet, there is enormous opportunity for this industry and it involves focusing on experiences that create and foster emotional connections. Companies need to provide customers a reason to commit to their brand that goes beyond price point, amenities or a membership program.”

Other notable hospitality and theme parks findings in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report include the following:

  • The category’s Brand Intimacy Quotient was 20.3, well below the industry average of 27.1.
  • Fulfillment, which relates to performance, was the archetype most associated with the category, and Marriott was the best performing brand for fulfillment.
  • Women and those 35-64 years old preferred Universal Theme Parks.
  • Millennials chose Disney Parks, which also ranked highest for fusing.
  • Universal Theme Parks, which ranked number one, had considerably improved its intimacy score, 41.1 this year, compared to 29.4 last year, while Four Seasons’ score declined to 16.7 this year, compared to 23.8 last year.

MBLM also released a comprehensive article entitled “Can Hospitality Brands Find a More Intimate Future: Uncovering opportunities for brands to building stronger connections with consumers.” The article includes an analysis of two major players in the industry—Marriott and Airbnb. It also provides a number of considerations impacting the way consumers bond with hospitality and theme parks:

  • More than technology for technology’s sake: Hotels are scrambling to invest and leverage technology to enhance the consumer’s experience.
  • The experiential factor: Hotels are focusing on unique experiences since millennial and Generation Z audiences tend to value experiences over material goods.
  • Brands that endure: The age of a brand impacts its ability to build intimate bonds with consumers. Younger brands need more time to build nuanced relationships with consumers.
  • Loyalty is dead: Loyalty programs are not impactful anymore, and brands looking for success would be better off investing in efforts to funnel more customers into the fusing stage, when a person and a brand are inexorably linked, instead of expecting repeat business from loyalty programs.

This year’s report contains the most comprehensive rankings of brands based on emotion, analyzing the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the U.S., Mexico and UAE. MBLM’s reports and interactive brand ranking tool showcase the performance of almost 400 brands, revealing the characteristics and intensity of the consumer bonds.

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