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Battle of the Brands

20 March, 2013

Added Value


Added Value announces Cultural Traction 2013 Report

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Added Value reveals the cultural vibrancy of 160 brands from across fifteen sectors in its third annual Cultural Traction™ 2013 report released today.

The Top Ten on a global basis are:

• Google
• Apple
• Samsung
• Microsoft
• Sony
• Audi
• Coca-Cola
• eBay

The Cultural Traction™ 2013 report involved 62,250 respondents across ten major geographical markets: the US, China, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The global study into the impact of culture-led marketing, shows that tech brands are making the most powerful connections with consumers, accounting for six out of the top ten places in the ranking. And by achieving high levels of ‘cultural traction’, these brands are ensuring they stay more relevant to consumers, thereby increasing their opportunities to achieve sustained growth.

Culturally vibrant brands are those perceived to have the most Visionary, Inspiring, Bold and Exciting (VIBE) attributes in research conducted by Added Value, the WPP-owned global brand development and marketing insight consultancy.

Home Furnishing giant IKEA makes a surprise entry at number 4, ahead of luxury car brands BMW and Audi. While the top brand, Google, is less than 20 years old, Coca-Cola is clocking almost 130. Its successful ranking at number 9 indicates that age is no barrier to being a brand icon when culture is used effectively and well to connect with consumers.

Says, Orazio Costadura, Head of Brand and Customer Management, Audi AG, “At Audi we are aware of the importance of continuously shaping our brand, making sure that it is culturally relevant to a high degree – not just in Germany or Europe, but across the world including major markets like China and the US. The results of the Added Value study offer a refreshing, new perspective on how to look at brands, and give us very encouraging evidence that the direction we have chosen for Audi is working.”

Lisa Bauer, Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, Royal Caribbean International, agrees, “VIBE is transforming the way we think about our brand and allows us to look at it through a new lens and understand our position in the overall landscape of brands. The marketplace is cluttered and consumers have more choices than ever. Cultural Traction provides us with the insight to increase our cultural relevancy and lead the conversation with consumers in a meaningful way.”

Worryingly for Google and Apple, their VIBE scores have slipped by 8% and 10% respectively in the US compared to last year, even though they still hold on to the top slots. Is Apple losing its shine as smartphone rival Samsung swoops in? Facebook suffered the biggest fall in VIBE score out of all the brands surveyed - down 20% - partly as a result of its troubled flotation and outcry over privacy concerns.

Key highlights of Cultural Traction™ 2013: 

Samsung on the rise. Is Apple on the wane?
Although Apple emerges ahead of Samsung in the study, leading edge consumers are picking up on Samsung’s VIBE. The latter is enjoying a more consistent and stable VIBE across the globe. Apple lead in the US, Western Europe and Australia, but it’s a bumpier road in Asia, which suggests a narrowing of the gap between the brands. Currently, Apple ranks ahead of Samsung by market value. Samsung ranks ahead of Apple by sales. The findings in Cultural Traction™ 2013 suggest Samsung has the greater momentum moving forward. 

Coca-Cola: Still the king. How does it manage it?
Mainly due to a single-minded focus to make the world a better place by putting responsible business strategies at the heart of the brand and weaving aspects of these positive changes into their brand stories, expressed and delivered in ways that are responsive to cultural trends. 

IKEA: The Best Loved Swede since ABBA?
The big blue and yellow box has built an empathetic persona around the world by focusing its offer and marketing on delivering clever small space solutions that are in tune with the struggling economic climate. It’s enabling people to indulge their appetite for design and to refresh their homes by being practical, friendly and enterprising.

Other headlines include:

• BMW and Audi: revving up for success in the race to be the “fourth screen & green.”
• Alcohol: Booze is snoozing and losing? Is it a coincidence that alcohol brands are declining as technology brands rise to the top?
• Luxury wars: Is Chanel out-styling Louis Vuitton?
Dove soars clear of rival Nivea. The only packaged goods brand to receive outstanding scores for ‘Inspiring’ worldwide.
• Walmart. What’s gone wrong in the States? As Target hits the bullseye, what are the brand remedies for Walmart?

Today, more than ever, it is critical that brands stay apace of culture. Why? Because as much as consumers can tell you about how the world is changing, the world can often tell you a lot more about the consumers of tomorrow,” says Maggie Taylor, Chief Executive of Added Value (North America). “It’s one thing to be a culturally vibrant brand in one part of the world; it’s another to maintain that vibrancy at high amplitude across the whole world.”

Added Value’s Cultural Traction™ 2013 report examines how top brands have managed to stay culturally relevant year after year, and illuminates the cultural shifts and trends propelling them. The online study was executed by Lightspeed Research.


Maggie Taylor, CEO Added Value North America +1 323 436 6610

Paul McGowan, CMO Added Value Group, London HQ +44 (0) 208 614 1518

Zoë Dowling, VP Research & Development and Offer Innovation, Added Value North America +1 323 435 6647

Media Enquiries
Kate McDougle, Added Value +44 (0) 208 614 1593

About the Cultural Traction™ 2013 study
This year’s Cultural Traction™ report is Added Value’s biggest quantitative study yet, involving 62,250 respondents in ten countries covering 160 brands in total and fifteen sectors (37 of the world’s biggest selling brands were measured in seven or more countries). The countries included were US, UK, China, Brazil, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, France, Italy and Australia. The online sample was sourced, and project executed, by Lightspeed Research.

Cultural Traction™ is assessed by measuring the change in a brand’s VIBE score -- that’s how Visionary, Inspiring, Bold and Exciting it is perceived to be -- over time.

For complete case studies of brands covered by Added Value’s 2013 Cultural Traction™ survey, please visit:  

About Added Value
Added Value ( provides consultancy on brand development and marketing insight for iconic brands, both big and small, around the world. We help solve clients’ central marketing questions about market, brand, innovation and communications with a footprint that now extends across 22 locations in 13 countries. Added Value is part of Kantar, WPP’s consumer insight and consultancy division. More information is available at: or blog  

About WPP
WPP is the world’s largest communications services group providing a comprehensive range of advertising and marketing services, including advertising; media investment management; consumer insight; public relations and public affairs; branding and identity; healthcare communications; direct, digital, promotion and relationship marketing and specialist communications. The group employs over 165,000 people (including associates) in 3,000 offices in 110 countries.

About Lightspeed Research
Lightspeed Research is the leading provider of technology-enabled solutions and online respondents for global market research. Lightspeed Research digitally accesses and derives insight from consumer opinions and behaviors whenever, wherever and in whatever segments needed. The industry’s most thorough panelist pre-screening process and large global pool delivers business-ready results quickly and cost-effectively. From proprietary online access panels to specialty panels, custom panels and innovative mobile surveys, and observed digital behavior and ad tracking, Lightspeed Research offers the industry’s highest-quality and most complete combination of qualitative and quantitative online research. This is backed by an expert client operations team that provides a range of data collection services, from sample management and survey design to programming and reporting.

Part of Kantar, a division of WPP, Lightspeed Research serves clients and cultivates online panelists across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information, visit and 

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