Aldi, Lidl & Ryanair dominate 2014 YouGov brand rankings leaving John Lewis, M&S and Sainsbury's in their wake

Aldi and Lidl have won the battle for consumer attention in 2014, according to YouGov BrandIndex’s annual buzz ranking.

The index measures how much a consumer has heard, positive or negative, about a brand.

Aldi came first in the overall rankings for 2014 with a score of 26.3 (see table below).

Amid a turbulent backdrop in the grocery sector, it began the year confidently with a ‘Swap and Save’ campaign aimed at wooing customers away from its ‘Big Four’ rivals. In the run up to Christmas, it ramped up its ad spend to almost £10m to end the year on a high with a mass appeal ‘Everyone’s coming to us’ spot.

In a close second on the overall scoreboard was Lidl (20.3) but the discount supermarket came top in YouGov’s ‘Brand Improvers’ ranking.

In August, it ploughed £20m into a brand campaign - #Lidlsurprises – which focused on driving awareness of the quality of its food.

Responding to the study, Arnd Pickhardt, advertising and marketing director of Lidl, told The Drum that its activity in 2014 cut through with consumers “because it was true and honest”.

"Consumers sense these things. Showing real people and documenting their genuine reactions when trying our products has proven to be a very convincing concept.

"Obviously we have a winning combination of quality and price but, aside from that, we have taken a step back and let the consumer do the talking. We've let them engage with our brand and it's that that makes all the difference,” he added.

Both overtook John Lewis, which dropped down from second place in 2013 to third place for 2014 despite ending the year on a high with its highly praised Monty the Penguin campaign. BBC iPlayer lost the top spot it had in 2013 to come fourth, while Dyson came fifth with a score of 14.

Waitrose was the only other grocer to make it into the top 10 with a score of 13. Marks and Spencer wasn’t far behind in ninth place with a score of 11.3.

In a separate ranking of supermarket Buzz, Aldi and Lidl again dominated, taking the two top spots respectively. Waitrose and M&S took third and fourth place and Sainsbury’s was the only ‘Big Four’ retailer to achieve a position with a buzz score of 8.4.

Meanwhile, among the other UK brands that have seen the greatest improvement in Buzz ranking over the past year, budget airline Ryanair has achieved an increase of 10.6 to take second spot behind Lidl.

The marked improvement in its ranking is without doubt the result of chief executive Michael O’Leary’s charm offensive which began 2014 when he vowed to consumers the brand was changing with an ‘Always Getting Better’ strategy.

Ryanair chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told The Drum that the airline's strategy overhaul in the last year, has played a major role in its overall success.

"We acknowledged we needed to make some changes, listened to customers and got on with the change quickly. We made real and meaningful change to the Ryanair experience: second bag allowed, allocated seats, new website, new app, fewer clicks, my Ryanair registration, new routes, family extra, and business plus. What customers like about Ryanair has stayed. The lowest fares and widest choice," he said.

However, Sarah Murphy, YouGov BrandIndex director, added there is still some work to do.

“Brands such as Ryanair will see this as a justification of their efforts to begin to change public perception of their brands. There is still a long way to go for those companies to achieve a positive overall score and a place in the nation’s hearts however.”

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