The retail brands with strong emotional connections to customers are…

Marianne Wilson
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The retail industry ranked three overall out of 10 industries in a study of brands based on emotional connections made with customers during the pandemic.

Amazon took the top spot in the retail category in MBLM's Brand Intimacy COVID Study, followed by Walmart and Whole Foods Market. Rounding out the top 10: Target Corp., Costco, The Home Depot, Instacart, eBay, Ikea and Sephora. (Brand intimacy is defined in the report as the emotional science that measures the bonds consumers form with the brands they use and love.)

"As the pandemic has intensified, digital retailers have experienced explosive growth as consumers relied on online delivery and curbside pick-up," said Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. "During the early stages of the pandemic, as people were stockpiling essentials like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water, many brick-and-mortar retail brands served as community lifelines."

According to the study, the top “intimate” brands continue to significantly outperform the leading brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 indices across revenue growth, profit growth and stock price during the second quarter of 2020, compared to the second quarter of 2019. The percentage differences are significant and indicate the degree to which intimate brands generate millions more dollars in revenue.

The study noted that during the pandemic, consumers increased their reliance on retail brands, with a 33% rise in "Can't live without," a measure that determines how essential a brand is to our lives.

In other findings, retail performed stronger than the cross-industry average across all archetypes except nostalgia and indulgence during COVID.