Surveying 2,000 UK consumers and 200 of the biggest brands, the research assessed brand success through the following three pillars: commercial influence; how a brand impacts purchasing habits; societal influence; its impact on society; audience influence; its ability to entertain audiences and create word of mouth buzz.
Microsoft’s winning score of 58.3 points is closely followed by TripAdvisor (54.7), Amazon (53.9) and Google (53.1).
However, in the US and Australian markets, Google came out on top in both, with Microsoft securing third (behind Apple in the US) and second (Australia) spots respectively.
Ian Gibbs, The Guardian’s head of commercial insight, told Marketing Week: “From the Windows 10 ads that showed how it was positively impacting young children to its ongoing charity work, the study proves that Microsoft’s societal impact really resonates with UK consumers.
“Perhaps it’s surprising that Microsoft is number one as it isn’t as trendy or buzzy as an Apple or a Google but that’s besides the point. We’re seeing a huge resurgence in CSR and it is really informing people’s relationships with brands; Microsoft ticks all of those boxes.”
Gibbs was keen to point out that positive societal influence was a primary driver of consumer feedback, accounting for 40% of the Influence scoring.
And in a separate top ten ranking of brands with the biggest societal influence, Microsoft (4th), TripAdvisor (7th), Google (9th) and John Lewis (10th) were the only non-charities to feature.
The technology sector, meanwhile, was credited as the “most purposeful” out of nine sectors by 10.1% of respondents.
The UK’s top ten most influential brands list also features supermarket chain Asda and the German discounters Aldi and Lidl, something The Guardian says proves how important price remains to UK consumers.
Gibbs concludes: “With the economy still suffering, the fact that Asda or Aldi both feature proves that price is still a huge driver when it comes to audience influence and appealing to people’s social values. Price really matters and the most influential brands recognise this.”