Great Private Brand Retailers Lead The 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend Study

While a fickle economy has forced many retailers into challenging periods of deep discounting, some top retail brands have managed to stay above the fray, partly due to their powerful brand equity. The 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend (EQ) study surveyed Americans about brands across several retail segments, revealing which brands prompted them to open their hearts–and consequently–their pocketbooks.

I can’t help but notice that the list of winners is also a list of retailers who have impressive Private Brand portfolios or who are dramatically reinventing their Private Brand portfolios. I can’t help but believe that there commitment to creating and growing their own Brands played a significant factor here.

Traditional Drug Stores Trump Value Retail Pharmacies
Although general merchandisers such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Kmart have rolled out value pharmacy departments, American consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from more traditional drug stores like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, according to the 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend study. In fact, Walgreens takes the top spot as EquiTrend’s first-ever Drugstore Brand of the Year, while CVS and Rite Aid came in second and third, respectively, in this new category for 2012. Top scores for Familiarity and Purchase Consideration boosted Walgreens to the top.

Target Hits the Mark as Value Retailer
In the Value Retailer category, Target is once again the Value Retail Brand of the Year, surpassing Walmart. While this is just the second year of this award category, in 2007 Target supplanted Walmart in overall Retailer rankings, and has maintained its lead ever since. Top scores for all three elements of brand equity – Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Intention – drove this strong performance.

Kohl’s Connects with Consumers
While all brands in the Department Store category have dropped in 2012, Kohl’s continues to rank above JCPenney to become the Harris Poll EquiTrend Department Store Brand of the Year in this year’s Harris Poll EquiTrend study. Kohl’s edged out JCPenney in 2009 and has been able to maintain its lead in the rankings ever since. Kohl’s shows the highest overall brand equity score, carried by a strong performance in Purchase Consideration. Earlier this year, Kohl’s also was the top mid-tier department store brand in the Harris Poll Customer Relationship Series, which measures customer experience with brands.

“The fact that Kohl’s ranked first in both surveys indicates that its brand promise is being successfully fulfilled through the actual shopping experience,” says Mike Chadsey, a senior consultant in the Customer Solutions Group at Harris Interactive. “This is probably why we see such strong scores for Kohl’s in Connection and Momentum.”

Nordstrom is Top High-End Department Store
While Nordstrom has been part of EquiTrend since 2010, this year it takes its place at the head of a new category: Luxury Department Store Brand. Top levels of Familiarity and Purchase Consideration drove Nordstrom to the top as the 2012 Luxury Department Store Brand of the Year. Lord & Taylor and Bloomingdale’s, included in the study for the first time, placed second and third respectively.

Speedway is the Convenience-Store-of-Choice
As Americans speed through their busy days, many shop at convenience stores, with some that are stand-alone stores and others which are part of retail gas stations. In the inaugural year for the Convenience Store Brand of the Year, Speedway takes the top spot, followed by Arco am/pm and 7-Eleven. While consumers are most familiar with 7-Eleven, Speedway’s top scores for Quality and Purchase Consideration led to its highest ranking in this category.

Costco Debuts as Gasoline Retail Brand of the Year
With the rising price of fuel, where Americans go to gas up is more important than ever. This year marks the first time Harris has included Costco in its EquiTrend retail gas category. The brand takes the top spot, debuting as the Gasoline Retail Brand of the Year. Costco supplants Speedway, which was the top-ranked brand for the last three years. Other brands scoring above average in brand equity include Hess, Shell, Sam’s Club, Sunoco, Speedway, Arco, ExxonMobil, and Chevron. While Shell enjoys the highest Familiarity in the category, Costco Gasoline boasts the highest Quality and Purchase Consideration among its competitive set.



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.