NEW YORK: Apple, Amazon and Google are among the brand owners enjoying the highest levels of loyalty with US consumers, a new study has revealed.

Brand Keys, the consultancy, asked 49,000 adults for their opinions of 598 brands in 83 sectors. It found the "values" and "experiences" associated with these products exerted the most powerful influence.

The Brand Keys analysis also suggested that despite the challenges of the recession, brands which "delighted" shoppers occupied the best positions, having built audiences based on factors beyond price.

Apple's iPad tablet – the first time this category featured in the study – received the strongest ratings from device users, beating Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Amazon's Kindle Fire. It also led the rankings overall.

Moreover, Apple's iPhone claimed second place, as well as leading the smartphone category, confirming the company's on-going dominance in these burgeoning sectors.

Amazon's ecommerce platform took third spot, and its Kindle e-reading device was fourth. Facebook, the social network, completed the top five, a group made up of members linked to digital media.

Hyundai, the automaker, broke this trend in sixth, ahead of Samsung's mobile phones in seventh and Discover credit cards in eighth.

Google enjoyed success, too, as YouTube, the firm's online video-sharing platform, was ninth, while its search engine also came inside the top ten.

"Many industry pundits have looked at the pressures on price and drawn the erroneous conclusion that brands have lost their value. Quite the opposite is true. Real brands are more valuable than ever," Robert Passikoff, CEO of Brand Keys, said.

"Brands, on the other hand, that lack meaning and differentiation, are punished. Such products and services have turned into 'category placeholders'; known, but not known for anything in particular. Relegated to a space closer to commodities than brands."

Other popular brands included Call of Duty, the console game, Mary Kay, the cosmetics line, McDonald's, the quick service chain, Haagen-Dazs, the ice cream, and Patron, the tequila.

Also in the top 20 were Grey Goose vodka, Crest Whitestrips, the tooth whiteners, Walgreen's, the pharma group, Clairol, the hair colouring brand, and AT&T, the wireless network provider.

Data sourced from Brand Keys; additional content by Warc staff