DUBAI: The travel industry ranked last, #15 of 15 industries in MBLM’s 2019 Brand Intimacy Study, the largest study of brands based on emotion. This is down from the industry’s #10 rank in 2018. Star performer Emirates Airlines leads at #1 for the third year in a row, followed by Etihad (up from #4 to #2) and Turkish Airlines. Oman Air, Air Arabia, Saudia, Air India, Air France, Fly Dubai and IndiGo round out the Top 10, in that order.

The industry’s poor performance correlates with recent decline in financial performance. Statista shows that net profit of commercial airlines worldwide has declined. In 2017 global profits were $37.7 billion, compared to $32.5 billion in 2018. According to the International Air Transport Association’s Economic Performance of the Airline Industry, the Middle East airlines are facing a sharp slowdown in capacity growth and a net post-tax profit of $0.6 billion in 2018. This ties up with the latest news release by Emirates Airlines on the challenges that the company is facing to create profits given a strong dollar and higher oil prices. 

Brand Intimacy is defined as the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love. Top Intimate Brands outperform top brands in the S&P and Fortune 500 indices for revenue and profit. Consumers are also more willing to pay price premiums for Intimate Brands and less willing to live without them, according to the 2019 Brand Intimacy Report. MBLM leverages the yearly study to help client brands create, sustain and measure ultimate brand relationships.

“This year’s travel industry results show how much this industry must work on strengthening the emotional bonds with its consumers,” said William Shintani, managing partner of MBLM. “The travel industry ranks #1 with millennials, yet comes in last among all industries, representing a unique dichotomy. Emirates Airlines has shown that by architecting a powerful essence, creating strong narratives and personable experiences, brands in the industry have the opportunity to really connect with consumers.”

Other notable findings for the travel industry include:

  • Millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) ranked the travel category as the #1 Most Intimate Industry.
  • Emirates Airlines was the #1 choice among all age group, gender and income-level demographics.
  • Etihad Airways was considered the top brand consumers ‘can’t live without.’
  • Turkish Airlines enjoyed the largest overall growth in ranking within the industry.
  • Air India had the largest drop in industry ranking, plummeting from #3 in 2018 to #7 in 2019.

To view more industry-specific data, please click here.

To download the full Brand Intimacy 2019 Report, please click here or explore the Data Dashboard, please click here.

Methodology: During 2018, MBLM with Praxis Research Partners conducted an online quantitative survey among 6,200 consumers in the U.S. (3,000), Mexico (2,000), and the United Arab Emirates (1,200). Participants were respondents who were screened for age (18 to 64 years of age) and annual household income ($35,000 or more) in the U.S. and socioeconomic levels in Mexico and the UAE (A, B, and C socioeconomic levels). Quotas were established to ensure that the sample mirrored census data for age, gender, income/socioeconomic level, and region. The survey was designed primarily to understand the extent to which consumers have relationships with brands and the strength of those relationships from fairly detached to highly intimate. It is important to note that this research provides more than a mere ranking of brand performance and was specifically designed to provide prescriptive guidance to marketers. We modeled data from over 6,200 interviews and approximately 56,000 brand evaluations to quantify the mechanisms that drive intimacy. Through factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and other sophisticated analytic techniques, the research allows marketers to better understand which levers need to be pulled to build intimacy between their brand and consumers. Thus, marketers will understand not only where their brand falls in the hierarchy of performance but also how to strengthen performance in the future.

About MBLM:
MBLM is the Brand Intimacy Agency, delivering expertise and offerings across three areas of focus: Agency, Lab and Platform. With offices in seven countries, our multidisciplinary teams help clients build stronger bonds and deliver optimized marketing outcomes and returns for the long term. To learn more about how we can help you create and sustain ultimate brand relationships, visit

© Press Release 2019

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