Ikea, Menards Tops In Customer-Loving

While retailers are inclined to toss the phrase “customer-centric” around almost as often as they say “30% off,” very few actually excel at focusing on consumers. But a new study from Dunnhumby names Ikea the most customer-focused housewares company, with Menards coming in tops among home improvement stores.

Dunnhumby bases its Customer Centricity Index on seven areas linked to long-term customer satisfaction and business growth, including experience, assortment, price, loyalty and promotions, gathering responses from more than 40,000 customers over a nine-month period to do so.

The Cincinnati-based customer loyalty expert says Ikea leads retailers in both price and experience, which it calls “a rare combination,” reflected in the Swedish chain’s 8% comparable-store sales growth in the past year.



In addition to pricing, it has also made gains with its loyalty program. “Additionally, with cafés that focus on European comfort food, self-directed purchasing and detailed showrooms to spark creative imagination, Ikea also stands out in creating an experience that current customers enjoy and want to share,” the report says. “Ikea makes a unique in-store connection, creating what customers describe as a 'fun showroom experience, without the showroom prices.’”

It says all retailers in the category excel at having a strong assortment, which makes brand differentiation more difficult. Bed, Bath & Beyond ranked second, followed by Williams Sonoma, Home Goods, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and Pier 1 Imports.

Menards won in the home-improvement category, earning especially high marks for price, flexible rebates and relevant promotions. Its “Save big money” positioning “has resonated with their customers who not only see them as the price leader, but also the value leader,” the report says.

As a result of the protracted downturn in the housing market following the recession, home improvement retailers have begun to focus more on DIY customers and less on professional contractors. But they haven’t done so well in key categories, with the survey finding that all home improvement retailers scored low in both the loyalty and feedback categories.

The Home Depot came in second, followed by Lowe’s, Ace and True Value.

Dunnhumby has linked high customer centricity scores with long-term performance.

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