What Food, Beverage Brands Are ‘Loyalty Juggernauts’?

Annual assessment highlights ‘brands of such overwhelming economic force that their ability to meet expectations makes them far more powerful than universal awareness alone’
Customer loyalty
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What food and beverage brands are the biggest “Loyalty Juggernauts”?

Global research-based senior consultancy Brand Keys, New York, just released its 27th annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index assessments.

“This year’s roster proves meeting or exceeding consumers’ expectations allows brands to transmute market-share and loyalty into category and market dominance,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “Those brands are Loyalty Juggernauts—brands of such overwhelming economic force that their ability to meet expectations makes them far more powerful than universal awareness alone.”

The model applies to all sectors and categories where brands generate high levels of consumer engagement and loyalty by better meeting consumers’ expectations, Brand Keys said. “Doing that can turn a brand into a devastating economic force.”

This year’s Loyalty Juggernauts include the following brands, with percentages indicating their ability to meet expectations consumers hold for the ideal (100%) in their category:

  • Beer (Light): Coors Light (88%)
  • Beer (Regular): Modelo (90%)
  • Bottled Water: Aquafina (75%)
  • Breakfast Bars: Nature Valley (83%)
  • Canned Soup: Campbell’s (79%)
  • Cheese Snacks: Cheetos (85%)
  • Cold Cuts: Boars Head and Hebrew National (79%)
  • Corn Snacks: Cheetos (82%)
  • Energy Drinks: Red Bull (90%)
  • Fast Casual Food: Chipotle (84%)
  • Fast Food: McDonald’s (91%)
  • Ice Cream: Häagen-Dazs (92%)
  • Natural Markets: Trader Joe’s (91%)
  • Nuts: Planters (85%)
  • Out-of-Home Coffee: Dunkin’ (93%)
  • Pizza: Domino’s (88%)
  • Potato Chips: Lays (80%)
  • Pretzels: Snyder’s (84%)
  • Soda (Diet): Diet Pepsi (85%)
  • Soda (Reg.): Coke (87%)
  • Tequila: Patron (90%)
  • Tortillas: Mission (83%)
  • Vodka: Tito’s (92%)
  • Whiskey: Jack Daniels (91%)
  • Yogurt: Chobani (86%)

Loyalty Different Today

“The loyalty paradigm has changed dramatically since the Cola Wars of the ’70s,” Passikoff said. Loyalty and consumer choice today don’t come down to one-or-the-other options. Rather, today’s loyalty bottom-line comes down to consumers’ deepest expectations and how they feel which brand measures up best.”

“Customer behavior and brand loyalty are now almost entirely governed by emotional values related to expectations, and expectations grow constantly,” Passikoff said. This year’s results validate customer expectations as the most accurate and predictive loyalty indicators, proving conclusively that better addressing consumer expectations turn everyday-brands into Loyalty Juggernauts.

This year’s engagement index also shows that consumers will not simply settle, Brand Keys said. “Their emotional expectations are the hardest to measure, but that is why they are the most valuable,” the consultancy said, adding that in this year’s survey, food and beverage brand expectations increased 39% year over year, but most brands have only kept up on average by 7%. Loyalty Juggernauts reduce that gap up to 50%, thereby virtually guaranteeing ongoing and consistent customer loyalty.

‘Super Glue’ of Customer Loyalty

Being a Loyalty Juggernaut moves brands beyond primacy of product, distribution, ad budgets, even pricing, and essentially commands category leadership, Brand Keys said.

“The ability to meeting those very high consumer expectations better than the competition acts like the ‘super glue’ of loyalty,” Passikoff said. “Brands create a virtually unbreakable bond with customers.”

Loyalty Economics

“Identify what consumers expect—create strategies, advertising and experiences that meet those expectations, and your brand can transform into a Loyalty Juggernaut,” Passikoff said. “Customers will be six times more likely to engage, buy and buy again. They are six times more likely to think of you first, pay more attention to your marketing and social networking activities and actively engage with your brand.”

A few 2024 economic facts substantiate the cost-and-effort effectiveness of brand loyalty strategies:

  • It costs 16 times more to recruit a new customer than keep an existing one
  • A 5% increase in loyalty lifts lifetime profits per customer as much as 78%
  • A 5% loyalty increase is equal to a 12-21% across-the-board cost reduction program

Recognizing Real Loyalty

The results of the 2024 engagement index offer up something more concrete than the accumulation of points and more to actual behavior in the marketplace, Brand Keys said.

“Real loyalty isn’t as nebulous as you might think,” Passikoff said. “Unfortunately, it isn’t something that just visits itself upon your brand. It’s not awareness, not satisfaction. It isn’t something you find on a 10-point scale. Those metrics only allow brands to bask in mediocrity.”

Loyalty is the consumer-to-brand bond, the bridge between emotional engagement and ensuring future purchases, Brand Keys said. From a measurement perspective, it’s the degree to which a brand meets expectations that consumers hold for the Ideal product or service in its category. It’s the ultimate answer to the question, “Do you know what consumers truly desire and how well does your brand deliver on those expectations?”

The complete list of the 2024 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index Brand Juggernauts in their categories can be found here.


For the 2024 CLEI survey, 95,607 consumers, 16 to 65 years of age, from the nine U.S. Census Regions, self-selected categories in which they are consumers and assessed brands for which they are customers via an independently validated research methodology, a combination of psychological inquiry and statistical analyses, with a test/re-test reliability of 0.93 and results generalizable at the 95% confidence level.

Brand Keys examined 1,200 brands in 114 categories to identify four category-specific path-to-purchase behavioral loyalty drivers, each driver’s component values and their percent-contribution to engagement, loyalty, and profitability (assessments that correlate with positive consumer behavior in the marketplace at the 0.80+ level). It has been successfully used in B2B, B2C, and D2C categories in 35 countries.

Brand Keys is a global research-based senior consultancy that helps Fortune 500/Global 1000 clients and their brands develop highly successful and profitable loyalty, brand health, and emotional engagement strategies, according to the company’s website.

Want to learn more about the foodservice, packaged beverage, snack and candy categories? Check out our event CRU in Nashville Feb. 28-March 1, 2024. Sponsors can gain 15 one-to-one meetings with qualified retailers.

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