Authenticity of a brand is crucial as it drives customer loyalty. Achieving this is a challenge which many businesses are struggling with in this digitally disrupted era. Last year in our Brand Alpha study the MA and Principals identified that many big traditional brands have been losing authenticity in their category as new fresh thinking brands change the rules of engagement.

The study used 4 quadrants to understand a brand’s authenticity of which two measure the power in the mind of a brand’s Vitality and Virtue, with the other two measuring the power in the market through Visibility and Value.

In this year’s edition of the Brand Alpha, we have again looked at 55 brands’ authenticity. In addition to this, we have also reviewed how new upstart brands are performing and the differing perceptions of brands’ authenticity between generations.

The results may make you rethink how you drive customer loyalty for your brands.

The rankings are out

ecostore and Lime scooters respectively claim the number 1 and 2 positions for the 2019 Brand Alpha rankings from the 55 brands measured in New Zealand.


ecostore leads the way in the all-important brand authenticity stakes with the 3,150 Kiwis surveyed.

ecostore has achieved the top spot through driving its authenticity in 3 of 4 quadrants. ecostore excels in Virtue, Vitality and Value, moving up one spot from their No# 2 ranking last year. It is Virtuous by having a purpose other than making money, offers Value to customers through its products’ attributes and is Vibrant through delivering a memorable experience for customers.­

Seven of the 2018 top 10 remain in the top 10 for 2019, but most have moved down a few places to make way for newcomers and the All Blacks.

The top 10 authentic brands in the 2019 Brand Alpha study



Lime scooters and IKEA were added to the list of brands surveyed this year to understand how these upstart brands are performing. Both have made the top 10 list. Lime, the brand for the innovative scooter sharing platform that was launched in New Zealand last year, turns up at number 2.IKEA enters at number 5 and hasn’t even opened a store here yet!


Kiwis appear quite savvy when it comes to the Lime brand as they don’t see it as virtuous in having a greater purpose other than making money. However, they love it for the experience (Vitality) and the benefit (Value) it provides them as a customer.

Like what was seen in last year’s ranking, new brands can quickly build authenticity. Lime has achieved this by offering a unique value proposition for customers as well as creating a memorable experience in the delivery. They have also withstood scrutiny from media and local government and have adapted their delivery as required.

Remember that new brands need to keep working hard to stay authentic in customers’ minds. Tesla has dropped from number 1 to 6th as consumers reassess if the brand is living up to the promises it has made.

Differing perceptions of authenticity between generations

This year Brand Alpha also looked at the differences between the generations of centennials, millennials, generation X, baby boomers and pre-WW2.

There are certainly differences between generations as no one brand is in the top 3 across all generations, in fact only ecostore has managed to be in 3.



The study also highlighted the challenge facing many well-established brands in being authentic to the younger generations.

To quote the well-known New Zealand futurist David Wild, “Change doesn’t happen fast”. David was getting at a couple of things here. Firstly, innovations typically don’t get created and launched overnight, they usually have a longer development time than consumers realise. Consumers only see the product or service once it is ready to be launched to the market.

Secondly, change doesn’t happen that quickly within a single generation, but it happens quickly between generations. The message is, if you want to know what innovations you should be working on now, study the young generations to understand their behaviours and needs as they are the future. This approach will have spin-off benefits up the generation chain as the older generations slowly adopt emerging trends. Maybe they will even ride a Lime scooter!

Other notable differences between generations are:

  • Millennials (18-34-year-olds) are a tougher generation to impress compared to all other generations. Millennials are also least likely to believe that brands live up to their hype, but the flip side of that is they will pay more if the brand is socially or environmentally responsible.Despite their social conscience, they are more likely to be materialistic.
  • Baby Boomers and pre-WW2 feel more supported and are happier with their lives. They are more likely to think brands live up to their promise and are less materialistic.
  • Generation X are in the ‘hump day’ of the life cycle. They are more likely to be materialistic, feel less supported and are least happy with life.
  • This provides some interesting trends for understanding how to build a brand’s authenticity and how this differs between generations. If you want to know more then just ask the team at Principals.

About Brand Alpha

The research was conducted by branding agency, Principals, in conjunction with research and analytics firm, The Navigators, and the New Zealand Marketing Association.

The Brand Alpha study seeks the opinion of New Zealand consumers around four key drivers of authenticity: visibility, value, vitality and virtue. The research is conducted multiple times each year and has been running for more than 10 years with a minimum of 300 nationally representative respondents per wave. The model has been proven to reliably measure the reputation of brands over time and, to date, more than 200 brands have been tracked in seven markets across Asia Pacific.

The most recent wave of research was conducted in April.

Download the Brand Authenticity 2019 report.