February 22, 2012, 4:44 PM

Retailers improve brand value but stumble on customer satisfaction

Reports show retail brands are gaining value, even though consumers are less satisfied.

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The largest retail brands in the United States collectively boosted the value of their brands last year, one report says, while another say merchants haven’t made strides in satisfying customers.

Retail brand consulting firm Interbrand says the top 50 most valuable U.S. retail brands increased their brand value an average of 4% from last year, when measured in dollars. Interbrand calculates a brand’s value by analyzing current and future revenues attributable to a brand, how the brand influences consumer demand, and projecting the brand’s ability to generate customer demand in the future. 

Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide, ranks ninth in the Interbrand study for overall brand value, but posted the greatest year-over-year gain in total value, up 32% from a year ago. Interbrand calculates Amazon’s brand value in 2012 at $12.76 billion. Amazon is the only web-only retailer among the 50 retailers on the list, 43 of which sell online.

Online marketplace eBay Inc. ranks tenth with a 2012 brand value of $9.81 billion, up 16% from a year ago. Interbrand says it is the first time the marketplace has placed in the top 10, and that eBay’s shift toward fixed-price sales is helping improve its growth rate and, consequently, its brand value.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. retained its first place rank, even though its brand value declined 2% to $139.19 billion; Walmart.com is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Target Corp., No. 22 in the Top 500, placed second with a valuation of $23.44 billion, up 1% from a year ago. The Home Depot Inc., No. 43 in the Top 500 Guide, placed third with a valuation of $22.02 billion, up 8% from a year ago.

Amazon.com also rated highly in a separate study that measured consumers’ experiences interacting with retailers. Amazon.com came in second, after Wal-Mart-owned Sam’s Club, among 24 retailers studied by the Temkin Group, a consulting firm that specializes in customer experience. Amazon received an overall experience rating of 78%, which is unchanged from a year ago. Temkin Group considers a rating between 70% and 79% as good, and anything over 80% as excellent. Sam’s Club earned a score of 85%, the only retailer to rate an excellent score.

Consumers rated their experiences on three evaluation categories: functional experience, accessible experience and emotional experience. The retailers with the lowest experience scores are RadioShack Corp., No. 254 in the Top 500 Guide, 57%, and eBay, 65%. The average score among all retailers studied was 71.4%, down slightly from 71.9% a year ago.

The Temkin Group report also assigned experience ratings across several categories of companies that serve customers, including banks, investment firms and insurance companies, among others. Retailers’ overall experience average of 71.4% placed it third among the industries surveyed, behind grocery chains (76.3%) and fast food restaurants (73.5%). 

Chris Bolte, vice president, demand generation, @WalmartLabs, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 as a featured speaker during a session entitled “Creating innovation: How to find fresh tech ideas in your own organization.

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