The Big Retail Brands That Drove Customers Away This Holiday

Dec 23 2013, 9:08pm CST | by

The Big Retail Brands That Drove Customers Away This Holiday
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

As the 2013 holiday-shopping season winds down, which brands succeeded in hanging onto their customers, and which saw them stampede out the door to competitors?

Research done over the weekend by longtime holiday-shopping research firm America’s Research Group on the Season’s Winners & Losers found the answers.

Retailers need to retain existing customers — at least 70 percent of them — to succeed in the key holiday shopping period, says America’s Research Group CEO and chairman Britt Beamer. But this year, the survey found, only three major brands did that — Walmart, Dollar Tree and Target. Based on that finding, it appears that low prices were a prime concern for most American shoppers.

Who is hemorrhaging the most customers out the door? America’s Research Group did a phone survey of more than 1,000 customers this weekend and asked shoppers where they shopped last year, and whether they stayed true to those brands this time around.

Here’s a look at the seven biggest losers in customer retention for holiday season 2013, along with the percent of customers they retained and my own thoughts about possible causes:

7. Old Navy (57.2%) — Apparently, the discount clothing chain’s Mega-Sale offer wasn’t enough to lure customers back to stores. Perhaps their use of 87-year-old Tony Bennett as one of their ad icons didn’t resonate, given the much-younger typical age of an Old Navy shopper.

6. Best Buy (56.6%) — When a big-box store that competes almost solely on price isn’t holding onto customers, that’s a big red flag for its future prospects. Positioning itself as “the ultimate holiday showroom” to visit was probably a misstep, leading one wag to dub their true positioning “ Try it out before buying it on Amazon.”

5. Lowe’s (56.0%) — Not a store I think of primarily for holiday shopping. Maybe fewer people were thinking about doing home improvement projects this winter than they did last year? We’ve had a lot of bad weather, particularly back East, which can affect those decisions.

4. Toys ‘R’ Us (53.1%) — This venerable toy chain has struggled for decades to stay relevant as online toy shopping rose in popularity…seems like it’s still not winning that war. This company needs a whole new strategy, as being the low-cost purveyor of mainstream toys is a slot now owned by Amazon and Walmart.

3. Marshall’s (50.0%) — Looking increasingly like a stale legacy brand, Marshall’s retained only half its existing customers. Promoting its #fabfound holiday hashtag didn’t seem to keep shoppers buzzing into stores.

2. Costco (49.4%) — As with Lowe’s, not necessarily a store that lives and dies on holiday sales, since so many of us shop there year-round on a regular basis for those food-and-wine deals. But perhaps holiday merchandise failed to thrill this year. If so, it hurts Costco less than it does a Toys ‘R’ Us.

1. Barnes & Noble (43.9%) — Being the last mega-store book chain standing doesn’t seem to be helping Barnes & Noble retain market share, the survey found. Instead, more customers deserted this brand than any other in the survey, likely for archrival Amazon.

Where did you shop this holiday season? Leave a comment and tell us if you were loyal to your favorite brands or tried new stores this season.

Source: Forbes Business


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