These insights come from NetBase, a global social analytics company, and its new report, entitled “Social Media Industry Report 2016: Retail Brands,” which looked at more than 430 million social media posts to study just how much some of the world’s best-known brands were engaging and connecting with their consumers.
NetBase studied the performance of 60 retail brands across 11 categories — pharmacy and convenience stores, discount, big-box, eCommerce, clothing, luxury, shoes, athletic, department store, grocery and office supply — by monitoring conversations across social media on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and more between July 2015 and July 2016.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” the study asked. “What about a solitary tweet, fired away in the dead of night? A disgruntled fan voices his vexation that his favorite album was out of stock, yet again. ‘Argh,’ he grumbled, followed by a slew of emojis that both underscore his love for his beloved artist and angst for the store that just couldn’t keep up with demand.”
NetBase measured the volume of the conversation, the reach of the conversation, net sentiment of how consumers feel about the brands they are discussing (on a scale of -100 to +100) and “brand passion.”
“It’s clear from our retail report that some brands are doing a much better job than others when it comes to meeting customer expectations regarding products or customer service. Wherever they stand, each retail brand has the opportunity to leverage social analytics to better understand their customers’ wants, dislikes and desires to best cater to their needs,” Paige Leidig, chief marketing officer at NetBase, said in a statement. “The holy grail is leveraging what you learn online — such as what really motivates your audience to click and purchase — and translating these findings into monetary ROI for your business.”
Amazon ranked as the most popular retail brand based on NetBase’s criteria, followed by Nike and then Best Buy. NetBase cited all three brands for “connecting and engaging” with customers across social media; Amazon topped the list in mentions and consumer awareness but only came in 28th in brand passion.
Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Burberry ranked fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
On the bottom of the rankings were Sports Authority at number 56, Dillard’s at 57, Express at 58, Kate Spade at 59 and Payless at 60; all scored on the lower end of mentions, awareness reach and brand passion.
The brands that consumers are most “passionate” about are Tiffany & Co. at number one, followed by Zappos, Aldo and Louis Vuitton.
“Aspiration purchases drive positive social conversations and brand image,” according to the study. “While larger brands might have higher mention volume, smaller brands can cultivate more engaged, passionate customers.”
Overall, net sentiment for retail posts was about 58 percent, while passion index was 69 percent, suggesting a “mixed bag of emotions and attitude towards the retail industry,” according to the study.
Overall, consumers felt most passionate about luxury retail (61 percent), discount (60 percent) and eCommerce (59 percent) but were lukewarm or downright dispassionate about department stores (37 percent), grocery stores (36 percent) and office supply companies (30 percent).
“They have the most to learn from listening to customers on social,” NetBase said of brands in these categories.
NetBase’s report seems to illustrate that the true “winners” of retail are those brands who use social media to effectively listen and learn from their customers.
“No matter your brand, no matter your business, global technology is bringing everyday consumer dynamics right into the hands of business leaders,” according to the study. “A neverending stream of social information reveals how consumers feel about their brands, lives, interests and everything in between. CEOs and CMOs must navigate emerging trends, reputation challenges, brand reviews and consumer connectivity — all at the speed of social.”