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Consumers are not buying based on price alone. Instead, they are relying more on their perception of value when deciding which brands to stay loyal to during the recession.

In fact, consumer expectations regarding brand value went up 20 percent, according to the 2009 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Those brands that aren’t perceived as being worth it will fall to the wayside, said Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff.

Brand Keys polled 26,000 consumers of 441 brands in 63 categories earlier this year. Among the brands that received the highest marks for meeting or exceeding consumer expectations, “there is a price-value formula consumers use to calculate brand differences and to decide which brands to buy,” said Passikoff. “Shopper consciousness has shifted from just trying to ferret out deals to looking for brands that provide value.”

Estée Lauder and Shiseido were tops in the luxury moisturizing skincare category while Aveeno and Mary Kay tied among the mass merchandiser category. Value also was a driver in the coffee category along with service and surroundings, quality and taste, and selection. Dunkin’ Donuts secured the top spot followed by McDonald’s and then Starbucks. “Our customers have a real connection with our brand,” said Frances Allen, brand marketing officer at Dunkin’ Donuts. “We’re hard working, straightforward and no-nonsense.” Allen pointed to the “You kin’ do it’” ads and taste-test strategy as helping drive the brand forward.

The full survey is available at Use the drop down menu at the top right hand corner to search by category.

See just the Coffee Category results