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  • Jennifer Marks

Whoda Thunk?

Jennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEFJennifer Marks Editor-in-Chief
Apparently, old habits die hard.
     It was not much of a surprise that Amazon topped the list of consumers' favorite retail brands on a recent ranking by New Media Metrics, which tracks the emotional attachment Americans feel for brands.
     As Forbes noted in its report on the top 16 brands last week, Amazon's emotional attachment score of 45.7% was higher than any brick-and-mortar retailer.
     The shocker was who also turned up on the list: JCPenney, Kmart and Sears. In each case, their scores with consumers improved over last year.
     Now, JCPenney's year-over-year increase was among the three on the chart that was a single-digit improvement. JCP's 2012 emotional attachment score was 29.4% versus 26.8% last year. But considering what's gone on since February, that's remarkable.
     Kmart's score jumped a whopping 41.2% over last year, and Sears' rose 30.4%.
     For the record, here are the top 16, along with their 2012 scores:
     1. Amazon: 46.6%;
     2. Victoria's Secret: 46.2%;
     3. Wal-Mart: 43.9%;
     4. Target: 40.2%;
     5. GameStop: 38.5%;
     6. H&M: 38.3%;
     7. Best Buy: 34.2%;
     8. Abercrombie & Fitch: 34.1%;
     9. Kohl's: 33.4%;
     10. Macy's 31.9%;
     11. Old Navy: 30.6%;
     12. JCPenney: 29.4%;
     13. Gap: 28.1%;
     14. Kmart: 28.1%;
     15. Sears: 27.0%;
     16. Dick's Sporting Goods: 26.7%.
     It's an interesting blend of specialty shops and general merchants. And while it's tempting to consider some of them "young" formats, most of them have been around for decades. The youngest, GameStop, traces its roots to Babbages (from the '80s) and subsequent mergers with other software companies.
     So, what gives? Why are some retailers that haven't clocked a positive quarterly financial performance in eons doing sitting on a "best of" consumer list?
     I suspect it's because the range of shopping options in the internet era has exploded - creating an atomized roster of favorite brands - while the assortment of bricks-and-mortar stores with a multi-state footprint has remained pretty much the same.
     The ranking also suggests even damaged brands retain equity. The trick, of course, is to leverage it profitably.

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