Retail brands performed particularly well during the pandemic—with Target and Costco making big gains in “brand intimacy” in the past year, according to a new study by brand consultancy MBLM. Apple, always a strong brand, got even stronger, holding the place it won last year atop Amazon as No. 1 overall.
Some brands that saw their ratings spike in the first year of the pandemic, including Zoom, Lysol and Purell, also either held their ground or moved even higher. Others that saw a strong spike in sentiment last year, including Walmart, dropped a bit.
MBLM (pronounced Emblem) has been compiling rankings, based on annual summer surveys of 3,000 consumers, for more than a decade. In this second year of the study during the COVID-19 pandemic, rankings proved particularly fluid, according to Managing Partner Mario Natarelli.
Costco made a big leap to break into the top 10. Toyota became the first non-U.S. automotive brand to lead its category and Harley-Davidson was among the 10 brand intimacy winners.
Brand intimacy is a complex scorecard. It incorporates how people rank brands on fulfillment (performance vs. expectations), indulgence (whether the brand is associated with moments of pampering or gratification), identity (whether the brand represents an aspirational image) enhancement (whether the brand makes people’s lives better), ritual (whether the brand is incorporated into daily actions and nostalgia (whether the brand creates warm feelings.)