According to market research firm Buyology, 85% of the decisions we make happen subconsciously. While the truth of that may be debated, Buyology has put out its annual report on the "Most Desired Brands for 2012" based on its survey method that probes our subconscious. What brands infiltrated the top spots of our latent mind? How are they performing as businesses? Let's take a look.
Men's Desired Brands
Women's Desired Brands
Bed Bath & Beyond
Source: Buyology's Most Desired Brands in 2012.
Southwest Airlines (NYS: LUV) topped both male and female lists, proving that while the lack of legroom may ruin our conscious experience of a flight, at least our subconscious enjoys having our bags fly free. A loyal customer base has helped the airline over the long haul, but the company still faces challenges in the short term. Fuel costs hurt Southwest in the past quarter, with its cost per gallon increasing 33% over the prior year to $3.18, and the company estimated they would continue to climb to $3.35 per gallon in the first quarter of 2012.
Dove, owned by Unilever (NYS: UN) , also appeared on both genders' lists. Consumer demand for Dove and some of its other brands, including Vaseline and Axe, helped power 10% revenue growth in its personal care segment during the last quarter. Unilever's strength in advertising can be seen in either Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty," which pushes for more realistic women models, or its more controversial Axe spots in which women chase men who use Axe -- both of which have won several awards.
Google (NAS: GOOG) won places on both lists as well, relating to women's senses of "awe and exploration," and men's senses of "awe and superiority." Google reportedly is making a move to further integrate with consumer minds with plans for special glasses that project digital information on the lenses, and potential retail shops. To make sure Google isn't seen as controlling too much of our brains and information, it has come out with the "Good to Know" ad campaign aimed at educating the public about online privacy -- and how Google helps achieve privacy.
Surprisingly, Bed Bath & Beyond (NAS: BBBY) made it to No. 5 on the men's most desired ranks. Buyology CEO Gary Singer told Forbes that "men love this brand because it offers them a highly organized retail environment and cool tools." Bed Bath & Beyond repurchased 5.6 million shares last quarter, which along with a 4.1% increase in same-store sales, helped increase earnings per share 28% over last year's third quarter. But even though it occupies the fifth spot in male brains, and has a friendly stance toward increasing shareholder value, Fool blogger Christopher French does not believe it represents a good investment.
Less surprisingly, the iconic Cadillac brand of General Motors (NYS: GM) also scores highly with men. Can you guess what the most watched ad ever was? GM's ad for the Cadillac ATS during this year's Super Bowl. And while marketing may be strong and the CFO may claim a "fortress balance sheet," its pension remains underfunded by more than $24 billion.
The Foolish takeaway
If these companies possess our minds and inform our actions without our conscious realization, they could have value beyond what the balance sheet reports. However, financial statements remain the most concrete data that affect stock price and value, and if these businesses fail to transform their top-of-mind awareness into bottom-line profits, shareholders will fail to be rewarded.
Three companies that do transform customers into cash -- and then shareholder value -- are revealed in our free report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." If you're unhappy with your current financial situation, this report describes the habits and three stocks that can improve your portfolio -- and it's free!
At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Dan Newman does not know why he just drove a BMW to pick up some Dove products at Bed Bath & Beyond. He also does not own shares of any companies mentioned above. Follow him @TMFHelloNewman. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, Bed Bath & Beyond, Southwest Airlines, Unilever, and General Motors, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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