Google tops Ipsos influential list, while TikTok, Loblaws and SkipTheDishes make big moves

Google is the most influential brand in Canada for the 10th consecutive year, with just one Canadian brand, PC Optimum, cracking the top 10 of the annual ranking from Ipsos.

The top of the list is dominated by technology brands, with the five most influential brands unchanged from last year: Google, Amazon, YouTube, Apple and Facebook.

Microsoft moved up two spots to #6, while Netflix and Visa both fell one spot, to #7 and #8 respectively. Loblaw’s loyalty program brand moved up to #9 this year, just ahead of Walmart at #10. (Read more about the top 10 below.)

“The one factor that many of these have in common is the frequency with which they are used, which results in them being firmly entrenched in day to day life,” said Ipsos. “The most influential brands are important and relevant; consumers identify with and have an emotional relationship with these brands, and couldn’t imagine living their life without them.”

In a virtual presentation Wednesday, Ipsos COO Steve Levy presented some key findings from this year’s research. It’s tough for Canadian brands to earn a top 10 ranking, he said. “If for no other reason that they simply don’t have the scale, scope, the access to capital and the access to talent in many cases that global brands do.”

The Ipsos ranking is based on a survey of 6,700 Canadians about 137 different brands. Since 2010, Ipsos has asked respondents to assess brands on five dimensions of brand influence: Trustworthiness, Engagement, Leading Edge, Corporate Citizenship and Presence. Ipsos added Covid-19 for the 2020 survey, and retained that dimension for 2021.

Making changes in these areas can contribute to or reduce a brand’s influence. “These are the six dimensions—the six levers if you like—that you as marketers can pull up and down to increase your influence,” said Levy.

Based on the key factors of influence, Ipsos creates an index: Brands with an influence index of 200 are roughly twice as influential as the average brand, while those with an index of 50 are roughly half as influential. And it presented what percentage of a brand’s influence was attributable to each dimension: Engagement could explain 22% of the total influence, for example, while Trustworthiness could account for 27%, etc.

Levy also explained the importance of influence for brands today. When the stock price of influential brands is compared to the average performance on the Dow and Nasdaq, a clear and obvious message emerges, he said. “Influential brands are worth more, much more, and consistently.”

Levy highlighted three big movers outside the top 10, and explained a little about why they had such a strong year.

TikTok: #44 (up from #72 in 2020)

The social video sharing app experienced tremendous growth, both in terms of users and time spent, with 11 million Canadian users (about 40% of whom are aged 16 to 24), and an average of six hours per month spent. “What contributes to this brand’s influence is being leading edge and its engagement, which of course is its very reason for being,” said Levy.

SkipTheDishes: #46 (up from #70 in 2020)

In part, the rise for SkipTheDishes is explained by the popularity of the entire delivery category which has tripled in size in the last three years. “This is a brand that is being used by the busy generation, by Gen X,” said Levy. “And its influence profile is driven mostly by its leading-edge nature and its engagement, where it way over-indexes.”

Loblaws: #31 (up from #46 in 2021)

Many Canadians credit Loblaws for “stepping up to the plate” during the pandemic, said Levy. And unlike the other two big risers, which resonated with some demographics more than others, the country’s largest grocer showed improvement among all generational cohorts.

“The primary contributor to the Loblaws’ influence factor is in the trust. But it was also one of the very few brands where we saw an over index on COVID, given all of the things that they did, and were seen to be doing, during the last two years,” said Levy. “Clearly it’s paying off for them.”

The Top 10  

Ipsos shared the top 10 from its ranking, along with their overall influence index and key dimensions of their influence.

#10 Walmart (influence index of 211)

Walmart was the only brand in the 10 where Covid-19 factored into its index score (6%). “The leading factors contributing to its influence were Presence (38%)— thanks to its 400-plus store footprint—and Trustworthy (26%).”

#9 PC Optimum (influence index of 219)

The most important contributors to the overall influence for Loblaws’ loyalty program were being Trustworthy (41%) and Engagement (29%). “The company’s range of supermarket and drug stores and e-commerce ensured it was there for customers during the pandemic.”

#8 Visa (influence index of 220)

Canadians increasingly prefer to pay with plastic over cash, and Visa is their preferred card. “Accordingly, the Trust and Presence dimensions contribute to more than half (55%) of Visa’s influence.”

#7 Netflix (influence index of 251)

The popular content streamer’s one spot drop from the year before could be because people were slightly less locked down than in 2020. But people still see Netflix as being leading edge and trustworthy. “That’s because viewers have come to trust the brand to continually deliver innovative content like The Crown, Tiger King, The Queen’s Gambit and Bridgerton.”

#6 Microsoft (influence index of 257)

The pandemic has meant more people spending more time with key Microsoft products, leading to high Trustworthy (27%) and Leading Edge (26%) scores. “Remote work helped Microsoft Teams nearly double daily active users to 145 million over the 12 months ending April 2021.”

#5 Meta (influence index of 261)

Late in the year, Facebook rebranded to make a statement about its commitment to the virtual reality and the metaverse. “Whatever you call it, the company held on to its place in our Top Five this year, with the Leading Edge (28%) and Presence (26%) factors contributing most to its influence.”

#4 Apple (influence index of 272)

Being Leading Edge (30%) and Trustworthy (24%) were top contributors to Apple remaining at #4. Apple also announced that it would reverse its practice of hoarding parts and repair information. “Users will be able to order genuine Apple parts to make basic iPhone repairs at home. Score one for the shareholders, activists and regulators.”

#3 YouTube (influence index of 288)

“Leading Edge and Engagement dimensions contributed equally at 27% each. Here’s why: YouTube is the second-most visited monthly site in Canada behind Google.”

#2 Amazon (influence index of 316)

The most important influence dimensions for Amazon were being Leading Edge (32%) and Trustworthy (28%). Aside from being a go-to for retail delivery, Amazon made headlines for space exploration in 2021, and announced large investments in Canada that will lead to new jobs.

#1 Google (influence index of 420)

Being Trustworthy (29%) and Leading Edge (26%) were the biggest contributors to Google’s strong influence rating, helping make it #1 for the 10th year in a row. “It’s also the most influential brand across generations, ranking first from Gen Z to Boomer consumers.”

David Brown