NEW YORK: The iPhone is the most-loved brand in the US, according to a new study, but its leading position is under threat from Lexus and two Disney brands.

The 2013 LEAP Index – LEAP stands for leveraging emotional attachment for profit – from analytics company New Media Metrics measured consumers' emotional attachment to brands in 38 categories. Those rating a brand 9/10 on a scale from 0-10 are the most loyal prospects and buy the product with great frequency,

The iPhone achieved top ranking with 61.2% of respondents scoring it at 9/10, which was a 2.2% decline on 2012. But significant increases in EA scores elevated Lexus (61% score, up 18.7% on the previous year) and Disney Cruise Lines (59% score, up 31% on the previous year) into serious challengers.

Technology brands continued to rank highly, with Apple in fifth place (55.1% score), Google in ninth (53.2% score), iPad in 12th (52.0% score), i-Pod in 13th (51.5% score) and Microsoft Office Suite in 15th (51.0% score). And the iPhone's main rival, the Samsung Galaxy, came in at 24th place (46.8% score). But all these had registered a decline in their EA scores, significantly so in the case of the i-Pod (-20.2%).

Leading travel, vacation and entertainment brands, by contrast, had generally seen their EA scores rising. In addition to Disney Cruise Lines, Universal Studios, in 10th place, had seen its score rise 10% to 52.7%, while Sea World, in 16th, was up 6.1%. Disney Parks, in 4th place with a score of 57.2%, had dipped 3.5% over the year.

Luxury cars also performed well with EA scores rising for Jaguar, in 7th place, and Audi, in 8th . BMW was 11th but had seen its score slide down by 2.1%.

"We think this year's ranking has a lot to do with the economy bouncing back," said Denise Larson, principal and co-founder of New Media Metrics, told Forbes.

"The fact that Disney Cruise Lines, Universal Studios, Sea World and Six Flags all increased in EA seems to indicate increased confidence (in the fact that people are willing to enjoy family travel again)," she added.

Her colleague Gary Reisman noted that it was a competitive market "where brand becomes more important ".

Separately, Michael Mitchell of Interbrand pondered the burdens of brand expectations. "When was the last time Apple really wowed us?" he asked.

"We'll see how long our loyalty lasts as our expectations for Apple come back to earth, and expectations for Samsung and Google continue to rise," he added.

Data sourced from Forbes, New Media Metrics, Interbrand; additional content by Warc staff