LONDON: Marketers are often advised that they should make an emotional appeal to consumers, but new research suggests they need to try harder as 'indifference' is the top reaction of UK consumers to all but three of the world's top brands.

A study commissioned by OLIVER, an agency that builds dedicated in-house agencies for clients, asked 1,000 UK consumers for the emotions they associated with the world's 25 most valuable brands as ranked by Interbrand.

This found that only ecommerce firm Amazon, internet giant Google and entertainment business Disney managed to generate a more positive emotion than 'indifference', with 'happiness' being cited by 34%, 30% and 27% respectively.

The brands most likely to generate feelings of indifference were tech business IBM and financial services business American Express, both of which registered 35% on this measure, Bdaily reported.

At the other end of the scale, McDonald's (8%), Facebook (7%) and Coca-Cola (6%) emerged as the most disliked brands, but the single figure responses indicated that few consumers could be bothered to get animated by 'hatred' for a brand.

"Brands must accept that they need to do more," said Sharon Whale, chief executive officer at OLIVER Group UK.

"It's no secret that food and drinks brands are trying to draw attention to their healthier options, for instance. Young people in particular are favouring responsibly-sourced produce and healthier diets, which explains the move away from brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald's."

She added that much of the emotional response consumers have towards brands was "driven by their experience of dealing with them – not just the advertising". So a frictionless purchase or customer experience which supports the brand promise becomes the most important factor in making an emotional connection.

The findings tie in with previous research by Havas – featuring 300,000 people in 34 countries – which showed that consumers would "not care" if 74% of brands disappeared.

In a Warc Webinar earlier this year, Nigel Hollis, EVP/Chief Global Analyst at Millward Brown, observed that most consumers in most categories only spend as much time thinking about brands as they absolutely have to.

Brand experience, in all its different forms, will always trump the influence of marketing, he said, meaning that marketing must be aligned with the brand experience to work effectively.

Data sourced from Bdaily; additional content by Warc staff