Survey: Walmart tops in customer loyalty

New York City Walmart dominated a recent report on customer loyalty in the retail industry, with Costco, Kroger, Walgreens, BJ’s Wholesale, Meijer, Publix and H-E-B also ranking among the leaders. The results of the survey, entitled “What Price Loyalty? The 2010 Colloquy Retail Loyalty Index,” were far different than the last survey (2008) when customer service, store environment and a wide product selection were the underlying factors for customers' self-professed loyalty.

“We’ve witnessed a profound change among consumers since the recession hit: Low prices have stepped up to become retail’s strongest loyalty lure according to consumers “That is something which was simply not true in 2008,” said Colloquy partner Kelly Hlavinka and author of the report’s white paper, “RetailTalk: What Price Loyalty.”

The 2010 index surveyed consumers in five regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest and Northwest. Respondents were surveyed across four retail categories: grocery, department stores, mass merchants and personal care.

Walmart dominated the 2010 Retail Loyalty Index, leading customer loyalty ratings in virtually every category. According to Hlavinka, the chain’s decision to rebrand itself and change its advertising strategy seems to be paying off.

“Families see themselves in Walmart’s ads, saving more and living better, rather than a bouncing yellow smiley-face character,” she said. “Moreover, the message of low prices and value resonates with customers and leaves behind a feeling that Walmart is partnering with its customers to get through difficult times.”

But the data also indicates that companies that are implementing other strategies, including digital couponing offers, shopper marketing efforts and leveraging customer intelligence data, are holding their own against Walmart and its low-price focus.

“The glimmer of hope for retailers is that as jobless rates go down and consumer confidence returns, retailers may very well regain their footing -- if they continue to work towards customer-centric solutions and more sustainable strategies rather than combating Walmart on low prices.”

Hlavinka said. “The bottom line for any retailer’s bottom line in today’s economic environment; You must find a way to become number one in something that affects consumers’ hearts and wallets -- just as Walmart has done through pricing and value.”

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