Trader Joe's, Costco and H&M Rule Retail With Brand Intimacy

Trader Joe's doesn't spend money on marketing or advertising, but it earns more love from consumers than any other retailer. The grocery chain scores the highest of all retailers in MBLM's latest brand intimacy rankings.

The agency's annual report measures the emotional connections between brands and their customers, using AI, data and sentiment tracking to determine which brands consumers feel closest to.

In a field led by Disney, Tesla and Apple, Trader Joe's -- No. 7 -- is the only retailer in the Top 10 overall.

"One reason for Trader Joe's success can be traced back to the brand's business model," says Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, in an email to Retail Insider.

With its relatively low price points and wide array of already prepared and frozen foods, the grocery chain offers shoppers highly convenient options at competitive costs. “Consumers may be more likely to treat themselves to try something new or outside of their comfort zones," Natarelli says.

So while those dark chocolate peanut butter cups and Mandarin chicken entrees may make people feel like they're living large, customers love how little they pay for those indulgences.

"One of the most common keywords connecting these three [top retail] brands is 'affordable,'" he says. Trader Joe's fans are 1.6 times more likely to mention the brand's affordability or cheapness than other retail brands.

But he says the brand still exceeds expectations on both quality and taste. This sentiment translates to H&M customers, too.

Retail ranks as the third most intimate industry in 2022 rankings, following media and entertainment and tech and telecom. It ranked third in the prior year's study, as well.

This year four of the top 20 brands overall are in retail: Trader Joe's, Costco, H&M, and Amazon. (Amazon, which topped the list of  top-performing retail brands last year, fell to 4th place this year while Costco rose from 4th to 2nd).

The report says these retailers rate high on fulfillment, which means they deliver superior service, quality, and efficacy. And they score high in indulgence, suggesting that people continue to see shopping as a way to treat themselves.

The study looked at 600 brands in 19 industries.

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