Walmart maintains its #1 position on Interbrand's U.S. Most Valuable Retail Brands list for 2012. Another brand to watch is Amazon.com, which maintains the #9 position, but increased its brand value by 32 percent-the largest riser on this year's list.
The Best Retail Brands report ranks the top 50 U.S. retail brands by brand value, as well as the top retail brands from the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and the Asia Pacific. The U.S. brands are valued for the fourth time in collaboration with Interbrand Design Forum, the retail experience group within Interbrand. Looking beyond the U.S. list, Tesco, Carrefour, Aldi, Zara, and Woolworths are ranked as the number one retailer in their respective markets-all holding their top spots from 2011.
Though it continues to be uneven, there are signs of growth. While the total brand value of this year's top 50 retail brands is flat, many brands increased in value by impressive double digits. The average growth by brand was a healthy 4 percent. The threshold for the U.S. league table has gone up over 90 percent compared to last year, as it now takes a brand value of US$ 771 million to make the top 50.
There were several shifts in the U.S. top 10. Walmart is still #1 by a huge margin, with a brand value over US $139 billion, down 2 percent from last year. Target holds on to the #2 position with a value of US $23 billion, up 1 percent from 2011. The Home Depot maintains its hold on #3, while CVS/pharmacy moves up to #4, surpassing Best Buy, who experienced an 11 percent decline in brand value and falls to #5 on the list. Walgreens remains at #6, while Coach's 16 percent increase propels them to #7, now ahead of Sam's Club (#8). Top riser Amazon.com is #9 and eBay moves into the top 10 for the first time. eBay replaces Dell, which falls off the list due to the fact it no longer meets the criteria for the list with less than 50 percent of its revenues from sales through its branded retail locations.
"One of the most compelling lessons from the list is that the best brands didn't stand idly by, waiting for further signs of recovery. They contributed to it by anticipating their customer's desire to return-not to shopping as usual-but to something better," says Bruce Dybvad, CEO of Interbrand Design Forum. "For the most part, companies have invested in better store experiences and put more capabilities into the hands of their shoppers."
Online retail spending continued to grow, from almost 7 to nearly 9 percent of all U.S. retail sales. But when it comes to mastering the integrated omnichannel environment, the retail industry as a whole seems to have barely scratched the surface. For individual retailers, such as Walmart and Target, online revenue accounts for less than 2 percent.
It's a highly competitive marketplace. A company may see it's losing market share, but may not see where it's going. Consumer spending is scattered thanks to new ways of making purchases. Manufacturers are becoming retailers. New rivals, often in the form of companies too small to hit the radar, continue to enter and fragment the market. In such a climate, every customer interaction becomes crucial.
The most prominent global retail trends in the retail sector include:
• 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. Brands like Uniqlo and Tesco are experimenting with new ways to better engage with customers. Uniqlo built a summertime roller-rink and pop-up store in Manhattan while Tesco created a virtual grocery store at a Seoul subway stop.
• Focus on the Path to Purchase: By returning their attention to the way consumers make purchase decisions, top brands find opportunities to innovate around pain points and build relationships. Today's pathway is more complex, with digital tools enabling customers to conduct more robust research to identify the best value.
• Every Brand is a Story: While retail has historically been extremely 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. The trick is to find the value beyond the transaction. The world's best brands know what the customer values, and work relentlessly to provide it for them.
• Leverage Design to Build Brand Value: Experience is the defining element of any brand. It provides the memory that prompts repeat use, or doesn't. Shoppers expect their favorite brands to speak in a consistent voice, in-store, online and in traditional and digital channels. In retail it is extremely difficult to get all the customer-facing components to talk the same talk to convey consistency and relevancy. Design is the ticket to breaking out of an old brand identity to re-inspire your customers. It can help add excitement and drama to routine transactions and its storytelling ability can energize brand culture.
• The Promise of Omnichannel Retail: A successful omnichannel 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. Brands like Walmart, Macy's and Boots are aggressively taking steps to master the new omnichannel world. The challenge it represents is great, but so are the rewards.
Source: Interbrand Design Forum