New York-based brand, customer loyalty and engagement consultancy Brand Keys has released a report that proclaims 2010 to be the ‘Decade of the Brand’ in its Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.

Covering 518 brands in 71 categories, the report indicates that attributes relating to the ‘brand’ and the degree to which brands affect customer decision-making, category-expectations, and engagement have increased significantly.

The survey was put to 33,500 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, drawn from the nine US Census Regions, by phone, face-to-face (to account for 20% of the population who are cell phone-only consumers) and online.

“At a time when brands are struggling to differentiate from their competition and to find ways to profitably engage their customers, the changes this year serves as a bellwether for marketers. It will be the products and services that answer with a truly consumer-centric view of their category – being a real brand – based on predictive loyalty metrics, that stand to gain the most, and establish themselves as this decade’s brand leaders,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys’ founder and president.

Passikoff went on to say that the levels of commoditisation that consumers have witnessed in the past decade have led them to look for brands to make a difference, shifting the value equation from ‘price value’ to ‘value-for-dollar’.

“Our 2009 findings predicted that value, not price, was the watchword in consumer behaviour… you can’t have the value conversation without the brand conversation, as true brands provide meaningful differentiation on a world over-run by commodities.”