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These brands are disrupting the status quo by changing consumer expectations. Though they span different industries, they possess a common characteristic; simplicity is at the core of experiences they deliver. They are empowering people, reimagining experience, removing friction and saving time.

1

Netflix

3

Internet retail

Rank Change: +3
Industry: Internet retail

Netflix, the entertainment subscription service that streams around 250 million hours of video per day, ascends from fourth place to become the World’s Simplest Brand. Whether you’re vegging out at home or aboard a cross-country red-eye, hosting your own personal Bill Murray retrospective or re-watching all ten seasons of Friends is as easy as reaching a device, opening an app and pressing Play. The platform takes ease of experience one step further, with algorithms that track your viewing patterns, eliminating the arduous decision-making process of what to watch next.   In 2018, after receiving more Emmy nominations than any other network, cable provider, or streaming service, Netflix took home 23 awards, tying with HBO for the most Emmys. In a rapidly changing television industry, the historic victory proves the streaming giant is poised to steal the throne from premium cable outlets.   With 130 million users across 190 countries, “Netflix and chill” is more than just Millennial.

2

ALDI

1

Retail / Grocery

Rank Change: -1
Industry: Retail / Grocery

Also view in:

Germany United Kingdom

With “easy-to-use” stores and “direct and helpful” information, ALDI understands the real path to its shoppers’ hearts is a stress-free, no-frills shopping experience. People credit the German brand for helping them “save time” as well as its “reasonable prices.” Simple, consistent floorplans plus uncomplicated offers, high-quality products, and excellent customer service, proves that ALDI is determined to give value back to its loyal customers.

3

 

Google

 

Internet search

Rank Change: N/C
Industry: Internet search

While it’s a radically different world since its launch twenty years ago, Google hasn’t strayed from its original mission. The tech industry may have faced scandals over the past year, but the universally “accessible” brand soldiers on, pushing the boundaries of available technologies to organize the world’s information.

4

Lidl

2

Retail / Grocery

Rank Change: -2
Industry: Retail / Grocery

Also view in:

Germany Sweden United Kingdom

Far from a cookie-cutter supermarket, the German global discount chain revolutionized the in-store experience by mastering efficiency—offering “hassle-free” shopping that gets busy shoppers in and out, and on with their lives. With “friendly customer service” and “straightforward pricing,” customer satisfaction remains a top priority for Lidl.

5

Carrefour

9

Retail / Grocery

Rank Change: +9
Industry: Retail / Grocery

French multinational retailer Carrefour pioneered the concept of buying everything from fresh fruit and dry goods to household DIY all under one roof. Shoppers appreciate the brand’s unceasing commitment to “transparency” and “accessibility." In 2018, Carrefour announced plans to join forces with Tesco, Britain’s largest supermarket chain, enabling both brands to improve the quality and choice of products available to customers, at even lower prices.

6

McDonald’s

3

Restaurants

Rank Change: +3
Industry: Restaurants

The world’s largest fast food chain’s convenience, reliability and simplicity is recognized by consumers the world over who continue to praise its straightforward menu. In May, McDonald’s simplified its drive-thru menu boards and added mid-priced items in key markets, including the U.S.—a change intended to streamline the ordering process and make service even more efficient. With this commitment to simplicity, it’s easy to see why customers keep “lovin’ it.”

7

Trivago

35

Travel / Booking

Rank Change: +35
Industry: Travel / Booking

Also view in:

Germany United Kingdom

Founded in 2005, trivago “removes the stress” from the online booking process. Travelers can effortlessly search over 1.3 million hotels in over 190 countries to find the ideal hotel at the best rate. Currently operating on 55 live international platforms in 33 languages, finding a place to rest your weary head has never been “easier.”

8

Spotify

34

Internet retail

Rank Change: +34
Industry: Internet retail

With a library boasting more than 20 million songs, Spotify is a fan favorite for its consistency and dedication to innovation. Audiophiles applaud having “all the music I like in one place.” Recently, the service added a new perk to its subscription tier, Spotify Premium for Students, which provides access to Premium music as well as streaming services from Showtime and Hulu, offering a complete world of sound and vision at an “unprecedented value.”

9

UNIQLO

12

Retail / Fashion; clothes

Rank Change: +12
Industry: Retail / Fashion; clothes

Also view in:

China Japan United Kingdom

Named after a compound of “unique” and “clothing," Uniqlo has established itself as a fashion empire with 1,300+ stores worldwide. With a philosophy rooted in Japanese values of simplicity, quality, and longevity, Uniqlo creates apparel to make your life better. But don’t mistake “reliable, simple designs” for boring—Uniqlo has a long history of successful streetwear collaborations, including collections with Jil Sander and The Andy Warhol Foundation.

10

 

SUBWAY

 

Restaurants

Rank Change: N/C
Industry: Restaurants

Also view in:

Germany Sweden United States

Praised for its “clear menus," “quick-service” and made-to-order sandwiches, Subway continues to make strides in simplicity. As part of an ongoing brand refresh, the restaurant chain unveiled “Fresh Now,” a new program emphasizing a more personalized guest experience. Investing $80 million in the program, Subway aims to update all of its 26,000 U.S. locations by next summer.

11

 

Burger King

 

Restaurants

Rank Change: N/C
Industry: Restaurants

The Home of the Whopper is “easy to recognize and easy to understand.” That universal transparency, combined with a commitment to flamed-grilled 100% beef, signature recipes, and “family-friendly” dining experiences has guests from across the land returning to the Burger Kingdom. In addition to delivery, mobile ordering, and streamlined operations, Burger King is currently testing self-service kiosks in select U.S. locations. You can dine like royalty without putting your kingdom up for sale.

12

Miele

5

Appliances

Rank Change: +5
Industry: Appliances

Also view in:

Germany Sweden

14

IKEA

9

Retail/General (mega/department store)

Rank Change: -9
Industry: Retail/General (mega/department store)

Swedish furniture maker IKEA wins simplicity points not just for its designs, but also for its intuitive catalogues and in-store shopping experiences. “Large text, clear images and symbols,” says one survey respondent of the retailer’s signage, adding “it’s easier to shop at their stores because you can see the products in context”. IKEA continues to innovate to make their products simpler, introducing new product lines that offer higher levels of customization along with fast and intuitive assembly.

15

Walmart

32

Retail/General (mega/department store)

Rank Change: +32
Industry: Retail/General (mega/department store)

Also view in:

China United States

16

Sony

7

Electronics

Rank Change: +7
Industry: Electronics

18

Honda

8

Automotive

Rank Change: +8
Industry: Automotive

Also view in:

Japan United States

19

Asos

23

Internet retail

Rank Change: +23
Industry: Internet retail

Also view in:

Germany Sweden

20

Nokia

21

Electronics

Rank Change: +21
Industry: Electronics

21

KFC

14

Restaurants

Rank Change: -14
Industry: Restaurants

The 3rd quick service restaurant in our Global Top 10 this year garners praise for its limited and consistent menu, and lightening fast order fulfillment. “They have sold the same items for a long time,” says one survey respondent. “[They] know what they are all about, and their ads are clear.” For KFC, familiarity appears to breed loyalty instead of contempt.

22

Bosch

8

Appliances

Rank Change: +8
Industry: Appliances

Also view in:

Germany Sweden

23

WhatsApp

19

Social media

Rank Change: +19
Industry: Social media

24

Philips

3

Electronics

Rank Change: +3
Industry: Electronics

25

Best Western

18

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: +18
Industry: Travel / Hotels

Also view in:

Germany Sweden United States

26

YouTube

18

Social media

Rank Change: -18
Industry: Social media

Consumers gave YouTube kudos for its ability to return desired search results quickly and its easy-to-navigate interface. The video streaming site will be launching a subscription service later this year, allowing subscribers to bypass advertisements and get straight to the content they’re seeking. The brand’s plans to fund original programming will soon pit them against other streaming services.

27

Ibis

15

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: +15
Industry: Travel / Hotels

Also view in:

Germany Sweden

28

Ramada

22

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: +22
Industry: Travel / Hotels

Also view in:

Germany United States

29

Expedia

7

Travel / Booking

Rank Change: -7
Industry: Travel / Booking

30

eBay

2

Internet retail

Rank Change: -2
Industry: Internet retail

31

Airbnb

11

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: +11
Industry: Travel / Hotels

32

PayPal

10

Banks / Retail

Rank Change: +10
Industry: Banks / Retail

33

HP

1

Electronics

Rank Change: -1
Industry: Electronics

34

LG

9

Electronics

Rank Change: -9
Industry: Electronics

35

Canon

17

Electronics

Rank Change: +17
Industry: Electronics

Also view in:

Germany India United States

36

Levi’s

6

Retail / Fashion; clothes

Rank Change: +6
Industry: Retail / Fashion; clothes

Also view in:

India United States

38

Hilton

26

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: -26
Industry: Travel / Hotels

39

Panasonic

1

Electronics

Rank Change: -1
Industry: Electronics

40

Pizza Hut

27

Restaurants

Rank Change: -27
Industry: Restaurants

44

Volkswagen

2

Automotive

Rank Change: +2
Industry: Automotive

45

Haier

26

Appliances

Rank Change: +26
Industry: Appliances

Also view in:

China India

47

Microsoft

16

Electronics

Rank Change: +16
Industry: Electronics

48

Bing

15

Internet search

Rank Change: -15
Industry: Internet search

Also view in:

Germany Japan United States

49

 

Yahoo!

 

Internet search

Rank Change: N/C
Industry: Internet search

50

H&M

32

Retail / Fashion; clothes

Rank Change: -32
Industry: Retail / Fashion; clothes

51

Uber

22

Travel / Car rental

Rank Change: +22
Industry: Travel / Car rental

52

Siemens

24

Electronics

Rank Change: +24
Industry: Electronics

Also view in:

Germany Sweden

54

British Airways

27

Travel / Air

Rank Change: +27
Industry: Travel / Air

Also view in:

Sweden United Kingdom

55

Starbucks

13

Restaurants

Rank Change: -13
Industry: Restaurants

56

HSBC

32

Banks / Retail

Rank Change: +32
Industry: Banks / Retail

Also view in:

India United Kingdom

The global bank and its peers receive similar complaints: confusing products , policies and security measures some people find confusing. “Security is important,” explains a respondent, “but their secure key I find difficult to use.” Customers also report trouble getting in contact with service representatives, and a relatively light marketing presence in some regions. “Out of sight, out of mind!” quips one respondent.

57

Lufthansa

7

Travel / Air

Rank Change: +7
Industry: Travel / Air

Also view in:

Germany Sweden United Kingdom

58

easyJet

21

Travel / Air

Rank Change: -21
Industry: Travel / Air

Also view in:

Germany United Kingdom

59

Groupon

8

Internet retail

Rank Change: -8
Industry: Internet retail

Also view in:

India United States

60

Ford

36

Automotive

Rank Change: -36
Industry: Automotive

61

Audi

1

Automotive

Rank Change: -1
Industry: Automotive

62

Gap

23

Retail / Fashion; clothes

Rank Change: -23
Industry: Retail / Fashion; clothes

63

Skype

1

Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Rank Change: -1
Industry: Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

64

ZARA

33

Retail / Fashion; clothes

Rank Change: -33
Industry: Retail / Fashion; clothes

65

Marriott

8

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: -8
Industry: Travel / Hotels

66

Holiday Inn

10

Travel / Hotels

Rank Change: -10
Industry: Travel / Hotels

67

Norwegian Air

2

Travel / Air

Rank Change: -2
Industry: Travel / Air

Also view in:

Sweden United Kingdom

68

DHL

16

Shipping / Mail

Rank Change: +16
Industry: Shipping / Mail

69

Hyundai

54

Automotive

Rank Change: -54
Industry: Automotive

70

Vattenfall

15

Utilities

Rank Change: +15
Industry: Utilities

Also view in:

Germany Sweden

71

Vodafone

6

Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Rank Change: +6
Industry: Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Also view in:

Germany India United Kingdom

72

O2

19

Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Rank Change: -19
Industry: Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Also view in:

Germany United Kingdom

73

Puma

12

Fitness

Rank Change: -12
Industry: Fitness

74

Mercedes-Benz

15

Automotive

Rank Change: -15
Industry: Automotive

75

FedEx

7

Shipping / Mail

Rank Change: -7
Industry: Shipping / Mail

76

iTunes

10

Internet retail

Rank Change: -10
Industry: Internet retail

77

Marks & Spencer

19

Retail / Grocery

Rank Change: -19
Industry: Retail / Grocery

78

Instagram

23

Social media

Rank Change: -23
Industry: Social media

79

Citibank

4

Banks / Retail

Rank Change: +4
Industry: Banks / Retail

Survey respondents indicated that they found this retail bank’s commercials and statements confusing. In addition, lengthy disclaimers, legalese and wordy emails appear to be barriers to simple experience for respondents this year.

80

Sephora

64

Retail / Health and beauty; drugstore

Rank Change: -64
Industry: Retail / Health and beauty; drugstore

81

Enterprise

45

Travel / Car rental

Rank Change: -45
Industry: Travel / Car rental

82

Nissan

7

Automotive

Rank Change: -7
Industry: Automotive

83

Sky

11

Telecommunications / Cable providers

Rank Change: -11
Industry: Telecommunications / Cable providers

Also view in:

Germany United Kingdom

84

BMW

5

Automotive

Rank Change: -5
Industry: Automotive

85

Debenhams

43

Retail/General (mega/department store)

Rank Change: -43
Industry: Retail/General (mega/department store)

86

 

Budget

 

Travel / Car rental

Rank Change: N/C
Industry: Travel / Car rental

87

Under Armour

7

Fitness

Rank Change: -7
Industry: Fitness

89

UPS

11

Shipping / Mail

Rank Change: -11
Industry: Shipping / Mail

90

The Body Shop

48

Retail / Health and beauty; drugstore

Rank Change: -48
Industry: Retail / Health and beauty; drugstore

92

 

LinkedIn

 

Social media

Rank Change: N/C
Industry: Social media

For social network LinkedIn, the confusion begins with articulating its purpose. “No one really understands how to use LinkedIn,” says one dismissive respondent, echoing the sentiment of many others. In addition, LinkedIn has faced several lawsuits in the past few years due to data breaches and privacy concerns, including hefty payouts due to providing potentially inaccurate user data to employers. Sometimes, social just isn’t simple.

93

Snapchat

51

Social media

Rank Change: -51
Industry: Social media

94

Topshop

20

Retail / Fashion; clothes

Rank Change: -20
Industry: Retail / Fashion; clothes

95

Avis

4

Travel / Car rental

Rank Change: -4
Industry: Travel / Car rental

“Hidden extras” might sound like a good thing, except when it comes to fees. Sneaky extra charges plague this car rental company’s customers, who also seem baffled by the difficulty comparing offers and getting a quote online. Non-native English speakers also complain that the website doesn’t offer other language choices.

96

Boots

56

Retail / Health and beauty; drugstore

Rank Change: -56
Industry: Retail / Health and beauty; drugstore

97

Hertz

8

Travel / Car rental

Rank Change: -8
Industry: Travel / Car rental

Car rental company Hertz lands in the Bottom 10 this year due to what respondents perceive as confusing terms and conditions and unclear costs. Other respondents complained of difficulty getting clear quotes on the company’s website and a lengthy registration process.

98

Ryanair

11

Travel / Air

Rank Change: -11
Industry: Travel / Air

Also view in:

Germany Sweden United Kingdom

Budget airline Ryanair has a reputation for dirt-cheap air travel in Europe, but survey respondents would warn you not to get taken in by the attractive price tag. Hidden charges include everything from baggage to booking fees to credit cards. Recently, the airline has made a concerted effort to step up their customer service—resulting in an uptick of bookings. We’ll see if simplifying the experience allows this brand to climb next year.

99

Geely

57

Automotive

Rank Change: -57
Industry: Automotive

Also view in:

China Saudi Arabia

100

Aviva

6

Health insurance

Rank Change: -6
Industry: Health insurance

Also view in:

India United Kingdom

101

Bupa

8

Health insurance

Rank Change: -8
Industry: Health insurance

When it comes to personal health, transparency and honesty are key to building trust. And this is where Bupa fails to deliver, according to survey respondents. “They do not give clear pricing structure or services offered in their communications,” a respondent writes. With hidden charges and hidden restrictions, simplicity appears hard to come by.

102

AXA

7

General insurance

Rank Change: -7
Industry: General insurance

This global insurance group lands in the bottom spot again this year. Survey respondents are frustrated by the brand’s lack of clarity in everything from pricing to communications and digital experiences. “Explanations from the company are garbled and hard to understand,” writes one respondent, adding for good measure, “Their website isn't user-friendly.”

103

Virgin Mobile

61

Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Rank Change: -61
Industry: Telecommunications / Cell phone service providers

Industry Rankings

Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
950 N/A
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
756 16%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
753 15%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
740 14%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
736 14%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
689 14%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
670 14%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
614 17%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
606 18%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
587 15%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
566 15%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
566 16%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
557 14%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
544 16%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
525 15%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
520 22%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
517 12%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
500 13%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
484 13%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
477 17%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
452 N/A

22

Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
448 16%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
433 19%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
329 19%
Industry Simplicity Score Simplicity Premium
279 16%

Money To Be Made

All brands can benefit from simplifying, but not all may benefit equally. To understand which brands in the United States can reap the greatest financial reward, and what they need to do to command more for their services, download the full report.