Analysis shows how brands in automotive, footwear & retail are perceived in terms of innovation (and that luxury might be dead)

For June, Amazon remains top of PSFK's Brand Innovation Tracker and are considered three times more innovative than the average in a survey of over 100 well-known brands. The majority of the market is being outpaced by the leaders and the companies at the bottom of the list seem to be at high risk of being displaced, or even replaced, in their sectors.

Having run the tracker for a third month, we can now begin to see how different verticals stratify at levels on our chart. Towards the end of the year, we'll run a more detailed analysis showing where different industries fit on the (perceived) innovation cycle – and within each market, which companies are the leaders and which are the ones at most risk.

For June, here's a topline analysis for key sectors:

The German companies are definitely noticeable at the top of the index and it's interesting to see how Audi bumps up against the tech firm Lyft.

American brands do pretty poorly in the poll but Ford is doing an okay job leading the pack. Most surprising is how luxury marques are perceived: considering the way their cars are marketed for their sophistication, Britain's Bentley and Rolls Royce have rather pathetic scores. (Range Rover saves the UK bottoms, thank goodness :).

The lifestyle brands like Nike and adidas top the poll. It's interesting to see Under Armour close behind the leaders and well away from the rest of the pack – especially as it contrasts with the recent sentiment about their market performance.

This month we had a deep dive into footwear and the results weren't great. The sneaker category is ranked just above index average when it comes to innovation and well behind the market leaders. I would imagine that a lack of real interest by consumers could present opportunities for popular outsiders like Supreme and Kith to step in and disrupt some of the legacy companies.

The shoe companies also have major perception issues – some nearing the bottom of the entire Index. I suspect that there's an opportunity here for new DTC brands to claim the market and become dominant players.

My general feeling is that the drinks category is where innovation goes to die. Most liquor brands perform terribly in the chart – and the premium brands are bottom of the barrel (ho-ho). My hunch is that the bigger beer brands float to the top through the investment in experimental and experiential marketing.

Is the market leader causing online retailers to struggle (like their bricks and mortar cousins)? We would assume that a few years ago, eBay and Zappos would have been close to the top of the index but today they look hidden in the middle layers. It's also interesting to see recent players First Dibbs, Bonobos and Farfetch score near below the index median: just because they are new doesn't mean the consumers see you as innovative. They need to never stop doing, I suspect.

Unless the product is some sort of machine or mechanical device, the more luxurious the brand the less innovative the perception. We also ran a question to check what people thought were luxury brands and the responses were pretty much what was expected – old school luxury brands are considered luxurious, new school (any) brands aren't.

So…does that mean…. if the most successful businesses (Uber & Airbnb) in the world are considered the least luxurious (and most innovative). And… the most luxurious brands (Rolls Royce, Rolex) are considered the least innovative….does that mean… luxury is dead?!?

(Just throwing that out there)


Next month, we'll be adding a look at new DTC companies plus legacy companies that millennial parents should be buying from (but probably don't). We'll also watch what's happening with Lyft too – there might be a problem there.

For more results (and to see where your brand gets scored) check our PSFK Brand Innovation Tracker.