The “Best Retail Brands 2012” report released February 2012 from Interbrand, a leading branding consultancy, describes a highly competitive, fragmented global market in which every customer interaction becomes crucial to capturing consumer spending. In response, according to Interbrand, five prominent trends have emerged in retail worldwide:
1. The Need to be Agile: Now that consumers decide how, when and where to interact, the only location for retail is where the customers are. Responsiveness trumps efficiency and adds value for customers.
2. A Focus on Path to Purchase: By returning their attention to the way consumers make purchase decisions, top brands are finding opportunities to innovate around pain points and build relationships.
3. Brand Theme: While retail historically has been operationally focused, more retailers are looking to brand to build value. A brand must develop a theme beyond a shopper’s need for function and identity by adding even more emotion and dimension.
4. Build Value with Design: Experience, the defining element of any brand, provides the memory that prompts repeat use, or doesn’t. Shoppers expect their favorite brands to speak in a consistent voice throughout traditional and digital channels. Design helps brands re-identify and energize themselves then re-inspire customers by adding excitement and drama to routine transactions.
5. The Promise of Omni-channel Retail: A successful omni-channel strategy has the potential to revolutionize retail, but the typical state of cross-channel commerce remains poor, plagued as it is by information silos, organization issues, and non-interoperable programs that frustrate customers. The challenge it represents is great, but so are the rewards.
The annual Interbrand study, conducted in partnership with the Interbrand Design Forum, the consultancy’s retail experience group, reported that Tesco (U.K.), Carrefour (France), Aldi (Germany), Zara (Spain) and Woolworths (Asia Pacific) ranked as the number one retailer in their respective markets — all holding their top spots from 2011.
Across Europe, leading retailers are gaining a competitive edge and winning customers by investing in new omni-channel strategies and in the overall in-store brand experience. In Asia, retailers are placing a renewed focus on quality, personalization, and after-sales services in an effort to rebuild and bolster consumer confidence following the natural disasters and economic turmoil that plagued the region in the past year, according to the report.
Across all the global lists found in this year’s report, the overall top risers include Amazon.com (U.S.; up 32%) Lerory Merlin (France; up 22%), Mercadona (Spain; up 22%), Lidl (Germany; up 20%), Tractor Supply (U.S.; up 18%), and Sephora (France; up 18%).
In its list of the Top 50 U.S. Retail Brands, the Interbrand report offered more specific details of U.S. brands and their overall value, as previously reported by Retail TouchPoints. Walmart, Target and The Home Depot are the three most valuable brands for 2012, based on each brand’s financial performance, its role in the purchase decision process and its ability to secure the delivery of expected future earnings, according to the study.
Brand value reflects the increased demand generation and premium that the brand provides its owners. Overall value can be used to guide brand and C-level managers to make better, more informed decisions. For example, knowing the brand’s value allows companies to determine the effectiveness of their branding and marketing efforts and overall return on investment. Additionally, the value is useful in assessing the resources that should be allocated to brand development.