In The Age Of The Customer, Superior Customer Experience Differentiates Retail Brand Leaders

In “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer,” Forrester shows that “in a world where empowered customers are disrupting every industry . . . the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge and engagement with customers.” This is not about mere customer centricity. This is about customer obsession. 

This customer obsession is particularly crucial in the world of big-box and online retail. With so much pricing and product information available at customers’ fingertips — at home and in the store — retailers are highly vulnerable to price undercutting and switching. Big-box retailers compete fiercely on price, and providing good value is a customer requirement. But our research shows that to be a leading retail brand, retail marketers must differentiate through the promise and delivery of superior customer experience. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century big-box retail brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?

Which brands ranked as TRUE brand leaders in big-box retail? Customer-obsessed retailers like Amazon.com. Amazon has set itself apart from its brick-and-mortar competitors such as Target and Wal-Mart through superior service and value, as it “seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.” In fact, Amazon is the only retail brand to secure top quintile scores across all TRUE brand dimensions. And the online retailer is the most trusted and essential of all of the retail brands surveyed. How has Amazon built a trusted brand? Through strong performance on the critical brand trust drivers of “having products that consistently deliver on their promises,” “providing good value for the money,” and “having the highest-quality products/offerings.”

To learn more about big-box retail TRUE brand leaders, check out my new report “Big-Box Retailers Must Be Trusted And Essential To Build Their Brand.”