TECHNOLOGY

These three retailers are tops in corporate reputation

BY Marianne Wilson

Another corporate ranking, another first place finish by Amazon.

The online giant came out on top in Harris Poll’s annual corporate reputation rankings report. The poll measures the reputations of the 100 most visible companies in the United States as perceived by the general public.

With a corporate reputation quotient (RQ) or rating of 86.27, Amazon had the highest RQ in the poll’s 18 years of study. It was followed by Wegmans (85.41), and Publix Super Markets (82.78). The three companies were the only retailers to crack the top 10.

For the RQ rating, consumers rate perceptions about each company across 20 attributes, classified into six elements of corporate reputation: financial performance; vision & leadership; corporate reputation; social responsibility; emotional appeal; products and services; and workplace environment. Amazon and Wegmans ranked in the top three on all six elements.

The Harris Poll report noted that in today’s increasingly polarized country, the reputations of some companies stronger on one side of the aisle vs. the other. Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, two companies that have publicly made clear their conservative-leaning corporate values are the most polarizing. Republicans give Chick-fil-A a higher RQ score than all other companies (it ranks No. 1 — beating the likes of Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, etc.). In contrast, Target is an example of a company judged more positively by Democrats.

“As companies struggle with questions around how prominent their values should be and whether their leaders should ‘speak up’ on society’s issues, RQ confirms both the reward and the risk of such choices,” the report said.

To see the complete rankings click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Subscription beauty retailer expands options

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Birchbox is launching a new, pricier service.

The online beauty subscription retailer will debut a service that enables shoppers to better customize their monthly box of samples, along with other perks, TechCrunch said.

The service, which is only currently available to current subscribers, is $14 per month. The original subscription is $10 per month.

The goal of the new service is to send customers more of the products they’re interested in, which the company expects to translate into more online sales, TechCrunch said. The launch comes amid reports that Birchbox, which has one store (in New York City), has been struggling to achieve profitability.

To read more, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Grocery shoppers not all that connected with social media

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While supermarket shoppers engage with their primary grocer on one or more digital platforms, social media sites are not a priority.

This was according to the “U.S. Supermarket Shopper Digital Update,” a report from the Retail Feedback Group (RFG). The new study, an offshoot of RFG's “U.S. Supermarket Experience Study,” focuses specifically on the digital aspects of shopper engagement with supermarkets.

While 87% of supermarket shoppers reported they regularly follow one or more social media sites, just 25% indicated they are friends with or connected to their primary grocery store. Social media sites used most heavily by supermarket shoppers include Facebook (89%), YouTube (53%) Twitter (30%), Pinterest (29%) and Instagram (28%).

It is important to note that members of various generations use social media differently. For example, Millennials use YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat more heavily than other generations.

"Closing the social media gap presents a real opportunity as many shoppers will change their behavior based on recommendations from their social network,” Brian Numainville, RFG principal noted. “For example, our research shows that 45% of supermarket shoppers are very willing to make a new recipe or meal and 32% are very willing to purchase a new food item based on social network suggestions."

While social media adoption may be slow, more than half (56%) of supermarket shoppers interact with their primary food store on one or more digital platforms. Their primary tasks include checking the digital circular (65%), researching special promotions (48%) and building grocery lists (46%), among other activities. Millennials are interacting on digital platforms at a higher rate (66%) as compared to Boomers (47%), the study said.

While 47% of shoppers indicate that their primary store has an app or mobile-enabled site, 44% were not sure, and 10% said their primary store did not. This finding clearly illustrates that retailers need to do a better job communicating the types of digital tools available.

When it comes to in-store satisfaction, on a scale of one to five, supermarkets register at 4.39. Only one type of more mature online shopping platform — general/specialty food websites offering delivery by mail or shipping company — currently surpasses this score with a 4.43.

However, online shopping formats, such as online grocers with delivery and no physical stores (4.36), traditional grocers with delivery (4.35), and traditional grocers with pick up (4.25), all have ratings that are closing in on the rating in-store, the study said.

"Although in-store satisfaction ratings are currently higher than most of the online shopping satisfaction ratings, the gap is closing,” said Doug Madenberg, RFG principal. “We would expect in the future that these ratings will continue to strengthen as online food shopping services refine their offerings and continue to focus on the best possible experience for their customers.”

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