In terms of quality, familiarity and purchase consideration, the latest Harris Poll EquiTrend survey puts Macy’s at the top of the department store pile, the Home Depot king of hardware, and Best Buy No. 1 in electronics.
Other winners include Nordstrom as the No. 1 luxury retailer, and Kohls.com as the retailer with the best website. The research is based on responses from some 97,000 consumers in the U.S., weighing in on about 200 retail brands.
In some ways, Macy’s rating in the No. 1 spot isn’t surprising, even given its struggles recently, says Joan Sinopoli, VP/ brand solutions at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. While the entire category is struggling, Macy’s score “is a pure, absolute reflection of the strong sentiment toward the brand, and toward this highly-rated category.
The growth in e-commerce aside, sometimes nothing replaces window shopping and physical contact with merchandise at your favorite stores,” she tells Marketing Daily. “What is surprising is how consumer perception of department stores seriously lags business performance.”
The Home Depot came in No. 1 for the fourth year in the row, with Lowe’s ranking No. 2, and Ace Hardware, Menard’s and True Value all scoring below the category average. “This is a hotly contested category, but Home Depot leads in familiarity, reflecting its higher penetration,” she says. “Without strong brand differentiation, it’s hard for anyone to overcome a market leader who consistently delivers.”
As the top online department store, Kohl’s came in first, beating Macy’s and JC Penney. And Neiman Marcus, Sears and Nordstrom all scored below average.
In the category of luxury department stores, however, Nordstrom landed in the top spot, with Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue all underperforming in the category.
Sinopoli’s advice for retailers is to pay even closer attention to who is winning in e-commerce. “Unless the physical stores drive a refresh, it’s bound to erode as e-commerce really picks up steam, and erode not to the .com brand, but to an e-commerce leader such as Amazon, as well as various fashion sites,” she says. “All brick-and-mortar retailers actually have a tremendous advantage if they can get back to the fundamentals of picking something to be famous for, stocking the right merchandise, and creating an appealing experience.”