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The ‘least engaging’ retailers are …


Five retail chains rank among the top 10 brands doing a poor job when it comes to emotional engagement, a measure of how well brands meet consumer expectations, according to an annual survey.

American Apparel, Aeropostale, Sears, Sports Authority and Whole Foods Market are among the Top 10 least-engaging brands in Brand Keys' 2016 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index survey. (A list of the top 10 brands is at the end of article.) The listing, now in its 21st year, ranks brands based on customer input in the automotive, technology, retail, food and beverage categories.

“The fundamental reason these brands were rated so low for consumer engagement is because they were unable to meet the very high – and ever-growing – emotional expectations consumers bring to the marketplace,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. “These are the critical values consumers use to compare brand options when they shop. If you do poorly, consumer displeasure not only shows up on the list but harshly in the real-world marketplace. And shortly thereafter on profit-loss statements.”

It is the first time Whole Foods has showed up the list. The grocer had a rough year, accused of price rigging of their own brand, along with high degrees of corporate hubris, BrandKeys noted.

American Apparel and Aéropostale have both suffered badly at the hands of online and corporate management. Sports Authority, once America’s largest sporting-goods chain, entered into bankruptcy protection in March.

For the 2016 survey, 42,792 consumers, 18 to 65 years of age, from the nine US Census Regions, self-selected the categories in which they are consumers, and the brands for which they were customers. Seventy (70%) percent were interviewed by phone, 25% percent via face-to-face interviews (to include cellphone-only households), and 5% online. This year the survey examined 72 categories and 635 brands.

The 10 brands with the lowest emotional engagement strength according to the survey are:

1. Volkswagen

2. Blackberry

3. American Apparel

4. Cosi

5. Aéropostale

6. Sears

7. kobo

8. Budweiser

9. Sports Authority

10. Whole Foods

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