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The retail brands that connect most with customers on an emotional level are…

BY Marianne Wilson

An online giant is tops when it comes to forming emotional bonds with customers.

Amazon once again led the retail industry in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study, the largest study of brands based on emotion. Amazon’s Whole Food Market brand came in second. (Brand intimacy is defined in the report as the emotional science that measures the bonds consumers form with the brands they use and love.)

“Amazon continued to dominate, not only topping the retail industry, but also ranking third in the overall study,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “As the brand continues to grow, it has strengthened the emotional bonds it is forming with its consumers. Amazon has also been able to weather strong criticism about its business practices.”

The top 10 was rounded out by: Target, Costco, Walmart, Macy’s, eBay, Nordstrom, Sephora and Ikea. Overall, the retail industry overall ranked fourth out of the 15 industries studied in the report. The top three industries were media & entertainment, automotive and technology & telecommunications.)

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Study also revealed that top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years

Other notable retail industry findings include:
• The industry had an average “Brand Intimacy Quotient” of 41.8, which was well above the cross-industry average of 31.0. Amazon’s brand quotient was 69.8.

• Enhancement, the archetype associated with becoming better through use of the brand, was the most prominent in the category, and Amazon was the top retail brand for enhancement. This is the first year, fulfillment (about service and performance) was not the most prominent, suggesting a shift from service to digital engagement.

• Sephora was the top brand for immediate emotional connection.

• Amazon ranked number one among women and users over 35, whereas men preferred Whole Foods and millennials favored Target.

• Amazon was also the preferred brand among users with incomes under $100,000, while Whole Foods was the top brand for those with incomes over $100,000.

• Costco and Macy’s improved their positions in the industry since last year, while Home Depot and Nordstrom fell in the rankings.

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