NEW YORK: Amazon, the online retailer, has replaced Apple's iPhone as the brand commanding the strongest levels of loyalty among US consumers, a study has found.

Brand Keys, the consultancy, has published its latest Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, which tracks popular attitudes towards 528 brands in 79 sectors, drawing on in-person and telephone interviews.

It reported Amazon had climbed to first position from seventh last year, boosted by its increasing scale, and usage of tools such as consumer reviews and recommendations software.

Robert Passikoff, CEO of Brand Keys and Warc blogger, told the CMO Council: "Amazon has been very high in the rankings for years, but ... now has a broader base from which brand loyalty can be developed. Amazon is all things to all people."

Apple's iPhone was in second place, down one spot from the 2010 study, while its Mac computers claimed fifth, and the company retained pre-eminent status on the key metric of product quality.

Facebook, the social network, claimed third, and the cellphones made by Samsung, the electronics manufacturer, occupied fourth. It was also praised for its high-definition TV sets, computers and smartphones.

Amy Shea, Brand Keys' EVP, brand development, said: "When we talk about brands standing for something meaningful, Samsung is the perfect example. They've organically come to stand for quality, leading-edge technology."

Zappos, the online clothing and apparel retailer, was a new entry in sixth, Hyundai, the automaker, took seventh and Amazon's Kindle debuted in eighth, as did Parton tequila in ninth, beating Mary Kay cosmetics in tenth.

Technology brands contributed 20% of the top fifty, with Google, the search engine, LG, the electronics firm, Bing, Microsoft's "decision engine", and Sanyo, another electronics group, heading the way.

Beauty offerings delivered 32% of the top 50, with retailers on 16%, although Wal-Mart fell eight spots to 13th, J Crew slipped the same amount to 21st and Target dropped to 33rd, having taken 26th last year.

Among the brands witnessing the greatest gains were Starbucks, the coffee house chain, rising 352 places, with Skechers shoes up by 290 places and Ford by 237 places, all entering the top 100 as a result.

By contrast, Nokia, the telecoms specialist, lost 63 places, BlackBerry, the mobile provider, tumbled 51 places to 60th, and Chanel slid by 23 spots, to 74th.

Data sourced from CMO Council; additional content by Warc staff