How do you get to the top of the Global Brand Simplicity Index? Ask ALDI, the #1 brand for the second year in a row. Or better yet, ask the customers of this worldwide German discount supermarket (and owner of Trader Joe’s in the United States). They’ll tell you simply, as our respondents did, that ALDI offers “clear pricing and a clear offer”—namely, high quality at low prices with a trimmed-down approach that makes decisions easier and the shopping experience basic, but rewardin
Google has been a Top 10 finisher since it joined the Index in 2011 and looks to stay there. As famously innovative as it is simple, the Google search engine is “peerless” and “reliable,” according to respondents worldwide. In fact, one study found Britons trust Google more than they trust their own families! In India, a respondent marveled that Google “feels so intuitive, it feels like they’re building products based on my input.”
Lidl, another global supermarket discount chain from Germany, makes its debut on our global list with an impressive #3 finish. Lidl, say respondents, “nails the shopping experience with clear communication” about its products. Discount supermarkets have been growing at such a rapid pace in Europe that they are beginning to change the competitive space.
You’ll find McDonald’s right where it was in last year’s rankings. A consistent Top 10 finisher on the Simplicity Index, the world’s #1 fast-food franchise has faced stiff competition from chains like Chipotle—especially in the battle to attract more Millennials. But McDonald’s still wins points with consumers for its variety of basic offerings and the knowledge that McDonald’s is “the same everywhere.”
As Netflix continues to expand its reach beyond the US to countries including the UK and Sweden—with plans to expand into Germany as well as France, Austria, Belgium and elsewhere—it debuts at an impressive #5 on the global list. Respondents say they love Netflix’s fixed price with access to everything, as well as its “simple app and payment method.”
For anyone who has had to furnish a new home or business in a hurry, Swedish furniture maker IKEA has long been a simple solution. Respondents say the combination of cheap and easy is unbeatable, as is the minimalist and space-saving design that helps “simplify home life.” IKEA’s inviting approach to brand experience—which recently included an overnight spa in one of its UK stores—wins points, too.
Holding steady at #7, international fashion retail clothing chain C&A has more than 1,500 stores in 21 countries. Respondents say the Dutch company makes online shopping easy to handle, offers a wide selection and provides timely information about fashion trends. All of which makes the C&A experience “easy and straightforward.”
“Simple menus,” “pricing that’s easy to remember” and a product that “caters to individual customer needs”—that’s how respondents describe SUBWAY. With more than 42,000 restaurants in 108 countries, SUBWAY has built its reputation on an uncomplicated, made-to-order product. Up from #15 last year, SUBWAY is working on building its base with health- conscious Millennials. Avocados, anyone?
Driven by the motto “Forever Better,” this German-based manufacturer of high-end appliances prides itself on quality, and respondents agree Miele is top shelf. “A superb brand that never malfunctions,” says one respondent from Sweden, summing up the sentiment. Its uncomplicated technology and simple operation win consumer satisfaction for the entire experience, from purchase to usage.
Amazon’s product lines now extend far beyond books, music and electronics to the competitive world of television series and even gallery art. Some wonder whether the world’s largest Internet company is overextending itself. Dropping from #2 last year, Amazon still delivers enough simplicity to keep it in the Top 10. At its core, it continues to offer easy browsing, clear price comparisons and fast delivery.
For HSBC, it’s been a steady decline from the middle of the pack to the Bottom 10 of the Global Brand Simplicity Index. Respondents say customer service leaves them with the impression that the bank, not the customer, comes first, making “everything harder than it needs to be.” Clearly, HSBC needs to learn from First Direct, the Internet bank it owns, which landed in the Top 10 of the UK list.
As rental car companies like Budget continue to consolidate, and prices rise as a result, consumers are feeling more than a pinch in their wallets. They’re feeling confused and just a little bit angry. “There are always hidden things you need to look into,” says one respondent, while another adds, “Advertising materials and the website are misleading.”
Hertz certainly isn’t winning any popularity contests with consumers globally, who have complaints about every step of the customer journey. “Useless customer service,” laments one Swedish respondent. In the Middle East, a respondent complains there’s a “lack of clarity” about leasing, and another in Germany says waiting times are “annoying.”
LinkedIn has a very simple problem: People don’t understand its purpose. That complicates life when you’re a social networking site that’s all about making business connections. “I can’t figure out why it’s really helpful,” comments one US respondent. Other respondents note concerns about security, while others complain about excessive email communication and a difficult-to-navigate website.
E.ON is a giant in the industry of energy supply, operating in more than 30 countries. Its problems are just as big. Earlier this year, the German-based utility company was ordered to pay a record 12 million British Pounds after an investigation in the UK found extensive poor sales practices. No wonder respondents around the world say E.ON “is completely untrustworthy,” out for themselves and just plain difficult.
There’s a bit of a traffic jam of American rental car companies at the bottom of the Global Brand Simplicity Index. While Hertz and Avis have switched relative places this year, it’s still the same old story. In Sweden, Avis is perceived as unwilling to help. In the US, respondents complain about its complicated rewards program, while in Germany a respondent calls them “sneaky.” “Everything is complex about Avis,” says a respondent from India.
Like HSBC, US-based Citibank has experienced declines in the Global Brand Simplicity Index rankings. In the Middle East, respondents say that Citibank would be rewarded for making its procedures more convenient. In the US, consumers see significant upside potential if Citibank could eliminate loopholes and clarify its messages.
UK-based international healthcare provider Bupa is ailing. Its condition took a 20-spot turn for the worse this year, landing close to the Global Brand Simplicity Index floor. Complaints range from too much jargon in the handbooks, too many plans and a complex pricing structure, to “not keeping its commitment to clients at the time of settlement.”
What can we say about Irish budget airline Ryanair that hasn’t been said before? Despite the company’s promise for a renewed focus on the customer experience, it’s still a bumpy and complicated ride for passengers. “Complex booking with all the onus on the passenger,” says one respondent. “Irritating and generally misleading,” says another.
Global insurance group AXA claims last place in our Index. If AXA’s been consistent in any way, it’s apparently doing so by proving insurance companies are difficult to work with. One German respondent says AXA contracts are “hair-splitting” as well as time-consuming. In the Middle East, a frequent complaint is that terms and conditions may differ from what was communicated.