NEW YORK: Apple, Starbucks and Coca-Cola are the brands enjoying the highest levels of loyalty among US consumers, and stand to yield significant benefits as a result, a study has revealed.

ClickFox, the customer analytics software group, polled 427 shoppers, 88% of which agreed quality was the number one factor in cementing their relationships with specific products.

This figure fell to 72% when discussing service, 50% for price, 45% regarding convenience and 15% concerning corporate social responsibility efforts, just beating the 12% registered by "status symbols".

Some 87% of the sample also confirmed that they would "tolerate more" for goods or services they had a strong attachment to, like paying a premium or driving a long distance to stores.

"Customers are demanding quality products and top-notch customer service, and they're willing to pay for it," said Marco Pacelli, CEO of ClickFox.

Apple, the electronics pioneer, was named as the number one company which the panel "couldn't live without", mentioned by 20% of people questioned, and "overwhelmingly" ahead of any other operator.

Starbucks, the coffee house chain, Coca-Cola, the soft drinks manufacturer, and Target, the mass-market retailer, were the next three brands performing well in the eyes of consumers.

Google, the online giant, Microsoft, the information technology group, and Amazon, the ecommerce site, followed in the rankings, the study revealed.

While assessing individual categories in terms of loyalty, food and beverage companies logged 57%, trailed by technology specialists on 51%. Wireless providers had the lowest total of 43%.

A 78% majority of shoppers spread word of mouth about their favourite products and services, 68% bought more of these items and 54% did not even contemplate choosing competing offerings.

Elsewhere, 48% of contributors concurred that the "critical time" to gain approval was at the first purchase, reaching 40% for resolving problems and 10% at the consideration stage, such as through positive recommendations.

However, 63% of interviewees believed brand owners were not rewarding their loyalty. A further 50% would do more business with a company that engaged them in this way.

Data sourced from ClickFox; additional content by Warc staff