Walmart is now the USA's most valuable retail brand, followed by Best Buy, The Home Depot, Target, and CVS, according to the latest 'Most Valuable US Retail Brands' ranking from retail brand consultancy Interbrand Design Forum.
Shoppers have clearly changed their behaviour in response to a downturned economy and, with the brand accounting for up to 80% of the average consumer's decision to shop at a particular store, there is a growing trend away from large, impersonal retail spaces toward stores with more emotion, creativity and a sense of community.
"In a recession, brand is more important than ever," said Lee Carpenter, CEO for Interbrand Design Forum. "Retailers are now realising that brand transcends its traditional marketing role and should be adopted as an idea that runs through every part of the company. During a period of increased competition and lower sales, brands that have successful propositions - such as Walmart - and that offer an engaging shopping experience - such as Best Buy - will continue to be the most successful."
As America's largest retailer, Walmart differentiated itself from other discount retailers by understanding its consumer base and carving out a niche for value-driven shoppers. The company's brand value currently stands at US$129 million, according to the study.
Several non-traditional retailers, such as those with an online-only presence, were included in the ranking, including Dell (#6), eBay (#11), Amazon.com (#14) and Netflix (#32). In fact, out of the top 50 companies, only six do not have online channels.
According to Interbrand, specialisation helps retailers to make stronger emotional connections with customers by offering a more meaningful shopping experience which, in turn, increases future sales by building long-lasting customer relationships. Brands that excel at this kind of specialisation include AutoZone (#25), Dick's Sporting Goods (#38), American Girl (#41) and Barnes and Noble (#44).
"Even in a depressed economy, consumers will always need a reason to purchase goods," Carpenter concluded. "Offering a shopping experience that delivers convincingly on the brand proposition can be the ultimate factor driving shoppers into the store, and it can serve as the catalyst for a potential long-term relationship with a loyal customer."
The complete report has been made available for download from Interbrand Design Forum's web site - click here.