October 7, 2023
6 mins

3 brands that made a splash this September—and why you should care

See how consumers feel about Pandora, McDonald’s, and Skechers using data from Harris Brand Platform.

Welcome to Stagwell Marketing Cloud x The Harris Poll monthly brand report. 

Every month, we take brand data from Stagwell Marketing Cloud’s Harris Brand Platform, a real-time brand management software tool, and highlight the brands you should have on your radar. 

Let’s dive in:


In the news

Sustainability, The Little Mermaid, and Taylor Swift…oh my! 

Jewelry retailer Pandora has Gen Z in the palm of their hand—even as the general population’s interest in the brand in waning. 

While some of their more intentional activations or strokes of luck (like a recent The Little Mermaid-inspired collection and a viral TikTok telling Swifties to go buy a set of celestial charms in honor of Taylor Swift’s Midnights) are easy ways to get attention from a specific demographic, Pandora’s commitment to producing jewelry in a more sustainable way is likely also what gives them points in Gen Z’s book. 

Pandora has plans to use exclusively recycled metals by 2025 and has brought lab grown diamonds into their gemstone lineup. Lab grown diamonds are quickly becoming popular for those looking for a little sparkle but worry about the environmental impacts of mining diamonds. 

A one-carat lab-grown solitaire diamond set on a 14-karat gold band from Pandora’s diamond collection has fewer emissions than an average pair of blue jeans (which produces 16kg of emissions)—not bad in comparison to the 160kg of greenhouse gases released per polished carat of a mined diamond. 

Catherine Ake, content strategist at The Harris Poll, digs into the data below. 

Real-time data

Pandora’s Purchase Consideration Gen Z vs US Adults—12 Week Moving Average

Harris Brand Platform. 4/1/23–6/30/23. Base: Gen Z adults, n=191. Base: General population of US adults, n=1,359.

“At the start of April, Pandora’s purchase consideration among Gen Z adults almost matched consideration among the general population of US adults at 53.0. By the end of June, consideration climbed (+12.2) among Gen Z adults, reaching 65.2. This occurred even as purchase consideration dropped among the general population of US adults over this same period. 

Pandora made huge strides with Gen Z adults in Q2. As the youngest generation of adults, Gen Z is an important demographic to reach. If Pandora can convert these young consumers into regular buyers, the jewelry giant could acquire a loyal, long-term customer base whose buying power continues to grow.”

Top-line takeaway

While strategic partnerships and collaborations can help brands reach a new audience or capture the attention of fans thirsty for merch, long-term, mission-driven promises from brands are one way to gain loyalty from consumers for longer than their Taylor Swift obsession lasts. 

This is why Pandora’s sustainability pledge is a great move for the brand (and the planet, of course). Gen Z has been coined the “sustainability generation” and is widely considered to be more concerned with how corporations act when no one is looking. 

And while there is certainly data that proves that Gen Z prefers to buy from sustainable brands, there is also conversation around the fact that they are price sensitive. Data from Forrester suggests European Gen Zers they are “convenient greens” (they care about climate change but prioritize value over sustainability) instead of “active greens” (they’re concerned about climate change and consider themselves environmentally conscious in their purchasing decisions) in Europe.  

The truth is likely found somewhere within that spectrum, and that still makes Pandora a great choice for Gen Z. They’re sustainable, affordable, and on top of partnerships that may bring new customers into the fold. 

Read the full Pandora case study here. 


In the news

Skechers has had no shortage of business achievements this year. Q1 was the first time the over 30-year-old shoe company reached over $2 billion in quarterly sales, they made the Fortune 500 list for the first time, and they snagged a collaboration with pop star (and internet troll) Doja Cat. 

And the data shows that consumers are noticing. 

In terms of momentum (a component of brand equity that reflects a brand market’s position and its ability to beat out its competitors), Skechers has seen an upward trend across Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z from Q1 through Q3. 

What’s contributing to this perceived momentum? 

While it’s likely a combination of new releases, collaborations with celebrities, and maybe even the rise in popularity of ugly, comfortable shoes and “dad sneakers,” Ake at Harris Brand Poll also found that consumers’ ad recall jumped significantly from Q1 to Q2. Let’s see what she had to say. 

Real-time data

Skechers Advertising Recall Q1 v Q2 Among Older Consumers

Harris Brand Platform. Base: Baby Boomers + Silent Generation. 1/1-23-3/31/23, n=707. 4/1/23-6/30/23, n=375.

“Skechers’ rise in momentum may have been positively impacted by the company’s strong marketing efforts in Q2. Among older consumers, we see ad recall jump (+8.3) from Q1 (36.1) to Q2 (44.4). Ad recall captures the percentage of consumers who remember interacting with a brand’s ad in the prior 30 days. 

Skechers aims to keep their brand top of mind with memorable advertising. They employ an omni-channel marketing approach that targets shoppers across many advertising mediums, including the use of print, TV, radio, and digital advertising, influencers and celebrities.”

Top-line takeaway

Q2 not only saw a huge bump in ad recall for Skechers, but also a 29.1% increase in direct-to-consumer sales. 

It’s also the same quarter that Skechers launched collaborations with Doja Cat, singer and Emily in Paris actress Ashley Park, football legend Tony Romo, baseball star Clayton Kershaw, and The A-Team’s Mr. T, along with a Rolling Stones capsule collection. 

Among the ads that may have inspired consumers to head directly to skechers.com and purchase a new pair of sneakers include a 30-second “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”-style jingle courtesy of Park. One of the top comments for the commercial on YouTube says, “I thought I dreamed this commercial after watching it at 3AM on CNN last Sunday. I freaking love the ending. Now I'm gonna go out and buy some Unos.” 

Seems like Skechers’s investment in celebrity collaborations and strategic advertising could have something to do with their record year. 

Read the rest of the Skechers case study here. 


In the news

Softer, lightly toasted buns, melty cheese worthy of a cheese pull, drip-inevitable quantities of sauce, and beef fat–saturated caramelized onions. 

These are the changes McDonald’s rolled out to their burgers at a number of their locations earlier this year with a plan for them to reach all American chains by 2024. 

“Our classic burgers are what made McDonald’s famous,” says Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer. “They’ve become a cultural icon over the years. We saw the opportunity to make a few changes in our kitchens to make them even more delicious and get back to what people loved most about them in the first place…making them hotter, juicier, and tastier.”

Folks are noticing. The Takeout published an article breaking down the changes, the headline “McDonald’s New Burgers Really Are an Improvement.” 

Does the media hype translate to consumer hype? Let’s see what Ake found. 

Real-time data

McDonald’s Emotional Attributes: Pre vs. Post Burger Announcement

Harris Brand Platform. Base: US adults familiar with McDonald’s brand. Pre: 1/1/23-3/31/23, 2,453. Post: 5/1/23-7/31/23, n=2,556.

“While McDonald’s overall brand equity score has gradually risen since the April announcement, their greatest growth can be seen in consumers’ perceived quality of the brand.

The emotional attributes that consumers ascribe to the McDonald’s brand also significantly shifted after the April announcement. When we compare McDonald’s emotional attributes from the first quarter of 2023 (Jan-March) to the three months after the announcement (May-July), we see significant growth across several brand descriptors, including “fun,” “customer centric,” “wholesome,” and “confident”.”

Top-line takeaway

While new, or limited time, menu items can attract customers, McDonald’s has instead focused on its core menu items to boost sales. 

Consumers’ reactions to McDonald’s burger updates this year show that flash-in-the-pan activations don’t always mean more than just leveling up the basics. 

In addition to increasing consumers’ perceived quality of the overall McDonald’s brand, the burger upgrades also impacted how many consumers describe McDonald’s: wholesome, customer-centric, fun, and confident.

Confidently sauce-y, if nothing else. 

Read the rest of the McDonald’s case study here. 

Sarah Dotson

Sarah Dotson is the Editorial Content Manager for Stagwell Marketing Cloud.

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