Amazon, Apple and M&S Simply Food are UK’s most-loved retailers

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Amazon, Apple and M&S Simply Food have topped the charts as the most-loved retailers in the UK, according to a new study of 96,000 consumers from market research company Savanta's BrandVue Retail

Savanta's William Blackett looks at what brands can learn from these results.

Each year Savanta’s Most Loved Retail Brands report shines a light on the retail brands that are capturing the hearts of UK shoppers. The research, which rates the top 100 retailers according to how loved they are by consumers, also identifies a direct correlation between emotive brand connection and commercial return.

What does this mean for the future of retail?

A number of lessons can be learned from the retailers in this year’s top 100 league table which can be adopted to help face new dynamics.

Price will become a major battleground

With household finances under strain, price will play an increasingly important role in how customers select and engage with retailers. Discounter brands are positioned well to serve customer needs in this space and other retailers will need new strategies to compete.

There needs to be a laser focus on value for customers. This doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest will win, but offering products at fair prices and understanding these drivers is key. Retailers also need to look at new ways of saving money, such as reducing inventory and passing efficiency savings onto customers.

Loyalty is reciprocated

Typically, retailers view loyalty as a ‘one-way street’, creating strategies to increase customers' loyalty. But successful retailers know that loyalty is about the company acting loyally to its customers, not vice versa. Retailers start to act loyally to customers when they understand them to a level of detail that ensures they remain responsive to changes in their behavior needs and rewarding in the way they treat them.

Amazon and Tesco are prime exemplars of this approach. Amazon builds customer loyalty through speed, convenience, and low prices but also within its Prime ecosystem, which provides value and loyalty to subscribing customers. Meanwhile, Tesco has implemented its incredibly successful Clubcard Prices program, rewarding Clubcard members with exclusive deals both in-store and online.

Local trends are here to stay

With more people working from home, the local neighborhood will play a greater role in the lives of consumers.

Staying local can create a distinctive community for consumers and help to reduce their carbon footprint through lessening travel and increasing the purchase of locally-sourced products.

With the growth of Facebook Marketplace and Etsy, local retailers and sole traders now have a digital platform to reach their customers. Mass market operators will need to look at the role of the store through the eyes of a community lens, as opposed to a purely transactional perspective.

Quantifying the value of the store estate, beyond simply sales

Store traffic has been permanently impacted by the pandemic, so some retailers will need to revaluate the role of their store estate and repurpose where necessary. Most brands simply cannot compete with the prices and convenience of Amazon. However, their stores offer a competitive advantage by enabling a differentiated, compelling, and motivating customer experience that reinforces their brand values and encourages customers to buy in-store or online.

Given the high cost of managing a store estate, it's key to quantify its value in pure sales terms and from an omnichannel perspective.

To find out more about Brand Love and what it means for the retail industry, download the full report, including the full list of the Top 100 Most Loved Retail Brands in the UK.

By William Blackett, evp, consumer at Savanta