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The retail brands that connect most with consumers are…

MBLM’s “Brand Intimacy COVID Study ranked brands based on emotional connections made with consumers during the pandemic.

A high-tech retail giant received high rankings for making emotional connections with customers during the pandemic.

Amazon has been the most intimate retail brand during COVID-19, with an average brand intimacy quotient of 63.6, according to MBLM’s “Brand Intimacy COVID Study,” which ranked brands on the emotional connections they made with consumers during the pandemic based on a survey of 3,000 consumers. Target and Walmart took the second and third spots, with scores of 56.8 and 55.2 respectively. (The retail industry has an average intimacy quotient of 45.7, well above the cross-industry average of 38.3.).

Brand intimacy is the emotional science behind the bonds consumers form with the brands they use and love, according to MBLM. Although the retail industry has faced manufacturing and supply chain challenges related to COVID, brand intimacy performance in the category has increased by an average of 8% since before the pandemic.

“Despite the hardships imposed by COVID on people and businesses, this period has actually drawn consumers closer to brands and created stronger emotional relationships,” MBLM said.

MBLM ranked brands across 10 industries. Media/entertainment, automotive and retail were the top three industries in terms of brand intimacy. Apple ranked first among all industries, followed by Amazon. Target, Walmart and Costco also made the top 10.

Additional retail industry findings include:

  • An increase in the percentage of users in some form of intimacy by 21%;
  • An increase of 55% in the “can't live without” measure; and
  • Retail brands perform better with men than with women and with consumers over 35 versus those 35 and under.

“In the second year of the pandemic, we see an increasing reliance on, and appreciation for, retail brands," said Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. "The continued flexibility of curbside pickups, contactless deliveries and focus on ensuring supplies in stock have continued to draw consumers closer to brands and create stronger emotional connections."

The top 10 retail brands in MBLM's Brand Intimacy COVID Study are below:

1. Amazon (63.6)

2. Target (56.8)

3. Walmart (55.2)

4. Costco (54.9)

5. Whole Foods Market (45.1)

6. Sephora (41.4)

7. eBay (38.6)

8. The Home Depot (37.0)

9. Ikea (33.1)

10. Instacart (31/3)

To download the main Brand Intimacy COVID Study report or explore the rankings, click here.

MBLM also analyzed the industry in an article entitled "The Growing Dominance of Retail". The piece looks at Amazon's enduring appeal, the impact of fluctuating demand, and the resilience of consumer relationships with retail brands amid a turbulent year.

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