Coke, Diet Coke, Dunkin’, and Starbucks all found engagement leadership positions in a challenging environment where consumer expectations have increased nearly 19 percent over 2014, according to the Brand Keys 2015 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.

The study is conducted by the New York-based brand engagement and customer loyalty research consultancy, Brand Keys, Inc., with ratings based on a brand’s ability to meet customers’ expectations better than the competition when compared to the consumers’ perception of the category ideal. 

“In a marketplace where brands struggle to create meaningful differentiation and engagement, those better able to identify customers’ expectations and address them via authentic emotional values will see tangible bottom-line results,” says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys.

“While marketers have only recently acknowledged the importance of consumers expectations, it’s something Brand Keys has tracked for 20 years. Empowered and socially networked consumers have come to expect everything from brands, particularly as regards emotional gratification and engagement,” says Passikoff. “That’s created an environment marked by extraordinarily high levels of emotional expectations.” 

Meanwhile, brands have only managed to improve their ability to satisfy consumers’ expectations by 6 percent this year. “Brands able to meet consumers’ emotional expectations always have higher engagement power, more loyal customers and, axiomatically, greater sales and profits,” says Passikoff. “The difficult part is accurately measuring this gap and determining what emotional values can help a brand successfully fill it.” 

In the Beverage category, brands ranked as follows:

Out-of-Home Coffee

1. Dunkin’ / Starbucks (tie)

2. Tim Horton’s

3. McDonald’s

Soft Drinks (Diet)

1. Diet Coke

2. Diet Pepsi

3. Diet Mountain Dew

4. Diet Dr. Pepper

5. Diet 7-UP

Soft Drinks (Regular)

1. Coca-Cola

2. Mountain Dew

3. Pepsi

4. Sprite

5. Dr. Pepper

6. 7-UP

News, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Starbucks, Tim Hortons