by Alex Palmer | October 13, 2015
Creating emotional connections between recipients and the gift cards and merchandise rewards they receive is one of the chief goals of an incentive planner. To this end, a new report offers some insight into which brands make the most personal impact on Millennials - with Amazon, Apple, and Disney scoring some of the strongest showings.

Brand consultancy MLBM's "Brand Intimacy 2015 Report," which looks at how brands create and sustain their relationships with customers, drew on the responses of more than 6,000 consumers across the U.S., Mexico, and UAE. MLMB asked respondents to describe their relationships to brands, looking at bonds such as Fulfillment (whether the brand exceeded expectations), Ritual (brands that became part of the users daily activities), and Indulgence (those that connect with consumers as gratification and pampering). From there the firm determined a "Brand Intimacy Quotient" (BIQ) that scored each company from 1-100, offering a shorthand of how each name connected with and fused with customers.

"Intimate brands make business sense," writes Mario Natarelli, MBLM's managing partner, and the report's author. "The Top 10 Most Intimate Brands…command a price premium, enjoying more financial resilience than brands in the same industries that are not intimate."

Apple topped the list of U.S. brands, with a BIQ of 73. Rounding out the Top 5 were BMW (71), Toyota (66), Amazon (64), and Harley-Davidson (62). Of most interest to incentive planners is likely Apple and Amazon, as well as Disney (which came it at No. 6 with a BIQ of 61), as these some of the more popular gift-card and merchandise options available to the corporate market. 

These results varied by generation. For Millennials (those between 18-34, according to the report), Amazon took the top spot, followed by Apple, PlayStation, and Nintendo. For Generation X (ages 35-44), Apple was No. 1, followed by Amazon, Samsung, and Coca-Cola.

Looking specifically at the retail sector - the industry of most interest to incentive suppliers - Amazon came out on top, followed by Whole Foods, Sephora, Target, and Starbucks. Nike topped the Apparel sector, while British Airways was No. 1 for travel.

"Brand Intimacy is about building strong bonds," writes Natarelli. "It factors in reciprocity and emotion as key drivers in decision making and behavior. This new paradigm better reflects how we access, learn about, choose, buy, share, and advocate for brands."

The complete report can be downloaded here