OPERATIONS

Apple, Amazon lead loyalty list

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — Results of the 16th annual Brand Keys Loyalty Leaders survey released Friday revealed that Apple, Amazon, Samsung, YouTube and Twitter have the most loyal followings.

“In 16 years aggregating brand loyalty leaders, this is the first time we’ve seen such a seismic shift in loyalty leadership in terms of new categories and brands making their appearance in the Top 100,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys founder and president. “Brand loyalty has always been primarily driven by emotional engagement, and the rankings this year make it crystal clear that connection is everything.”

With 598 brands in 83 categories for consumers to rate, there’s strong competition for the Top 100 spots. “This year certain categories rose to the top because of the high levels of engagement that consumers show, and what they deliver versus consumers’ expectations,” said Passikoff.

According to Brand Keys, 21 new brands appeared on the 2012 list, most of those facilitating social outreach. Apple (tablets) and Amazon (tablets) took the top two spots among product categories, followed by Apple’s smartphone, Amazon’s on-line retail, Apple’s computer and Samsung’s tablet. Twitter ranked 10th for its social networks.

The brands that showed the greatest loyalty gains on the list this year were:

Sephora (+60 places)
Starbucks (+55)
Ford (+47)
Samsung smartphones (+30)
Costco (+24)

Brands that saw the greatest erosion of loyalty and engagement included:

Netflix (-69 places)
Bing (-60)
Blackberry (-40)
B.J.’s Price Club (-31)
Flickr (-29)

“Some brands suffered losses because of the economy as consumers shifted to less expensive brands that still held some degree of meaning,” said Passikoff.

Twenty-three percent of the Top 100 brands account for consumer outreach and engagement via cellular and social networks. And, whereas last year beauty and personal care brands accounted for nearly a third of the Top 100, in 2012 they represent only 18% of the Top 100 brands.

Retail brands were down nearly a third – looking at bricks and clicks providers – on this year’s list. “We believe that the inability for retailers to provide meaningful differentiation – beyond low-lower-lowest pricing strategies – has seriously eroded loyalty levels in the retail category,” said Passikoff.

Amazon.com is still high on the list (No. 4), but emotional bonds have weakened across the retail category. Zappos (No. 6 last year) moved down the list to No. 19 this year; the next ranked retailer is Target, at No. 36.

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REAL ESTATE

Whole Foods to buy six leases from Massachusetts family-owned grocery chain

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Austin, Texas — Whole Foods Market said Friday it will acquire six leases from Johnnie’s Foodmaster, a family-owned grocery chain based in Chelsea, Mass. The transaction is expected to close Nov. 30.

Johnnie’s Foodmaster will close all six locations prior to the closing date, but Whole Foods said it has guaranteed interviews to all Johnnie’s Foodmaster employees at the six acquired locations with the goal of hiring as many as possible.

The six leases include South Weymouth, Arlington, Charlestown, Brookline, Melrose, and Somerville, and average 31,000 sq. ft. in size. Whole Foods Market intends to remodel each location, with the goal of reopening all six stores before the end of its 2013 fiscal year.

“To have the opportunity to sell to a company like Whole Foods Market has made a tough decision much easier,” said John DeJesus, president of Johnnie’s Foodmaster. “I know that my employees and our loyal customers are in the best hands, and that the communities will benefit greatly from the product selection and shopping experience that Whole Foods Market offers.”

The terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

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OPERATIONS

Family Dollar names store operations exec

BY Staff Writer

Matthews, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores said Friday it has named Colin McGinnis as SVP store operations support, store development and procurement. He will report to Barry Sullivan, EVP store operations.

McGinnis joined Family Dollar in August of 2004 as a regional VP and, in 2006, he was named VP store operations support and process improvement. Most recently, he added additional responsibility for store services, procurement and store development.

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