Interbrand Releases 2012 Best Retail Brands Report

Interbrand, the world’s leading brand consultancy has released its 2nd annual global report dedicated to the retail sector. The Best Retail Brands report ranks the top 50 U.S. retail brands by brand value, as well as the top retail brands from the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and the Asia Pacific region.

Looking beyond the U.S. list, Tesco (UK), Carrefour (France), Aldi (Germany), Zara (Spain), and Woolworths (Asia Pacific) are ranked as the number one retailer in their respective markets—all holding their top spots from 2011. Across Europe, leading retailers are gaining a competitive edge and winning customers by investing in new omnichannel strategies and in the overall in-store brand experience. In Asia, retailers are placing a renewed focus on quality, personalization, and after-sales services in an effort to rebuild and bolster consumer confidence following the natural disasters and economic turmoil that plagued the region in the past year.

Photo: 2012 Best Retail Brands Report

Brand-led companies are proving to be resilient by continuing to bolster their digital experience, while simultaneously finding new ways to reinvigorate the in-store brand experience.

The most prominent global retail trends gaining relevancy across the sector include:

•    The Need to be Agile: Now that consumers decide how, when and where to interact, the only location for retail is where the customers are. Responsiveness trumps efficiency and adds value for customers. Brands like Uniqlo and Tesco are experimenting with new ways to better engage with customers. Tesco created a virtual grocery store in a Seoul subway station and Uniqlo built a summertime roller-rink and pop-up store in Manhattan.

•  Focus on the Path to Purchase: By returning their attention to the way consumers make purchase decisions, top brands find opportunities to innovate around pain points and build relationships. Today’s pathway is more complex, with digital tools enabling customers to conduct more robust research to identify the best value.

•   Every Brand is a Story: While retail has historically been extremely operationally focused, more retailers are looking to brand to build value. A brand must develop a theme beyond a shopper’s need for function and identity by adding even more emotion and dimension. The trick is to find the value beyond the transaction. The world’s best brands know what the customer values, and work relentlessly to provide it for them.

•    Leverage Design to Build Brand Value: Experience is the defining element of any brand. It provides the memory that prompts repeat use, or doesn’t. Shoppers expect their favorite brands to speak in a consistent voice, in-store, online and in traditional and digital channels. In retail it is extremely difficult to get all the customer-facing components to talk the same talk to convey consistency and relevancy. Design is the ticket to breaking out of an old brand identity to re-inspire your customers. It can help add excitement and drama to routine transactions and its storytelling ability can energize brand culture.

•    The Promise of Omnichannel Retail: A successful omnichannel strategy has the potential to revolutionize retail, but the typical state of cross channel commerce remains poor, plagued as it is by information silos, organization issues, and non-interoperable programs that frustrate customers. Brands like Walmart, Boots, and Macy’s are aggressively taking steps to master the new omnichannel world. The challenge it represents is great, but so are the rewards.

Global key findings from the study include:

Walmart maintains its #1 position on Interbrand’s U.S. Most Valuable Retail Brands list for 2012, with a brand value just over US 139 $m, but down 2% from last year. maintains the #9 position, and increased its brand value by 32%—the largest riser amongst all countries’ brand rankings.

eBay moves into the top 10 for the first time, replacing Dell on the U.S. Most Valuable Retail Brands list. Dell fell off the list due to the fact it no longer meets the report’s criteria. (To be defined as a retailer, a brand must generate at least 50 percent of its revenues from sales through its branded retail locations). Dell is continuing to focus more on its enterprise business which occurs through direct sales channels rather than retail locations.

—Across all the global lists found in this year’s report, the overall top risers include (U.S.; up 32%) Lerory Merlin (France; up 22%), Mercadona (Spain; up 22%), Lidl (Germany; up 20%), Tractor Supply (U.S.; up 18%), and Sephora (France; up 18%).

—The top new entrants include Guess (U.S.: 1,748 $m), Bershka (Spain; 873 $m), and Muji (Asia Pacific; 355 $m).