FMCG continue to foster very positive emotional reactions among Irish consumers with the top 3 brands this year comprised of FMCG brands. Cadbury Dairy Milk retains the title of Ireland’s most emotionally connected brand for a third year in a row garnering a net positive emotional connection of +69. Tayto protects its #2 spot, Brennans improves its position gaining two places to assume #3, while Digestives holds firm in #9.

Among a fiercely competitive grocery retailer sector, Aldi grows emotional connections over the past year and re-enters the top 10 brands, coming in ahead of other competitor retailers at #5 and earning them the title of Ireland’s most emotionally connected grocery retailer. Modest gains made by Dunnes sees them rise to #6 while Lidl, who ranked #3 in 2023 slip to #10 in 2024. However, when looking at the sector by gender, we see that men are most emotionally connected to Lidl, coming in at #2 within the top 10 brands for men specifically. While Dunnes fractionally edges out Aldi in the top 10 brands for women, landing in #3.

This year also sees three new entries demonstrate the very potent emotional connections they have with Irish consumers, with Wild Atlantic Way, Flahavans and Credit Union debuting the list of brands at #4, #7 and #8 respectively.

While the industry may like to believe that consumers devote a lot of thought to every brand choice they make, evidence suggests this simply is not the case. Instead, people tend to make fast “good enough” brand choices based on mental shortcuts.

Behavioural and marketing scientists such as Gerd Gigerenzer and the Ehernberg Bass Institute have done extensive work in this area to concretely prove that a brand that is available, both mentally and physically, is easily recognised and evokes positive emotional feelings is more likely to be chosen over brands that are not.

RED C’s Brand Reaction Index uses facial expressions as shortcuts for emotions. We show a series of faces and then show a random selection of brands one at a time. Each time a brand is shown we ask consumers to choose as quickly as possible the emotion that they feel when they see that brand.

In May 2024, we conducted our latest BRI test in Ireland to identify Ireland’s Most Emotionally Connected Brands. Today’s results showcase the fourth year of measuring emotional connection of brands among Irish consumers, identifying who is the most and least emotionally connected, how connections have evolved over time and how brands compare against competitors within their categories.

Some other key finding of the research include:

FMCG brands forge particularly positive connections among women. While Cadbury Dairy Milk triumphs among both men and women, the brand’s score among women (+81) is considerably higher than that among men (+56). Other top 10 FMCG brands Tayto, Brennans, Digestives and Flahavans also attain higher BRI scores among women, revealing women connect well with brands in the indulgence space.

This year highlights a significantly more positive reaction to the utility sector, likely reflective of falling energy prices, with the sector having this year’s largest growing brands ESB (+19 vs ‘23) and Bord Gáis Energy (+18 vs ‘23). Most other utility brands, including sector leader Electric Ireland (+13 vs ‘23), also experience substantial jumps in scores.

Dublin Airport, the brand who saw the biggest increase in score in 2023, continues to cultivate even greater positive connections amidst a further increase in score of +12 which sees the airport move further up the ranks and land just outside the top 50 brands at #55.

A very positive story for Irish banks this year with both AIB (+17 vs ’23) and Bank of Ireland (+9 vs ’23) establishing greater connections which sees them move into positive BRI territory for the first time.

Positive gains this year from Samsung (+7 vs ‘23) and Netflix (+13 vs ‘23) sees both brands extend their leads within the technology and entertainment spaces and fall just short of the top 10 brands overall, achieving #11 and #13 respectively. However, Samsung is a standout brand among men, with the brand climbing up to #4 in the rankings for men, while Netflix excels among women, rising to #8 in the rankings for women.

Although, it’s not a positive story for everyone. Social media brands continue to have very poor overall emotional connection with consumers with social media giant TikTok remaining firmly in the negative. While new entry X (formerly Twitter) debuts at #176 of 177 brands tested.

National broadcaster RTÉ registers the steepest decline (-27 vs ‘23), on the back of challenges which the organisation began to face in 2023.

So, is this merely for fun, or does it bear significance? Our research indicates that it is critical, serving as a key factor in influencing brand choice. A higher BRI score increases the likelihood of a brand being selected over its competitors (provided that the brand is also readily available and easily recognisable)

If you want to find out more about your brand and its context with competitors, get in touch with us at info@redcresearch.

Full report is available here RED C Brand Reaction Index 2024