Amazon, Home Depot, Nike Named Top Retailers On 2020 Loyalty Leaders List

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie Grill-Goodman profile picture

Survey Methodology

Brand Keys uses an independently-validated research methodology that fuses emotional and rational aspects for the category-specific Ideal and identifies expectations consumers hold for each. Brand Keys’ research technique is a combination of psychological inquiry and higher-order statistical analyses, has a test/re-test reliability of 0.93, and produces results generalizable at the 95% confidence level. It has been successfully used in B2B, B2C, and D2C categories in 35 countries. For the current expectations survey, 3,265 Men and Women, 16 to 65 years of age from the nine US census regions participated.

Amazon, The Home Depot, and Nike were the top three retailers to grace the 24th annual Brand Keys’ "Customer Loyalty Leaders List 2020.”

The list gives the loyalty rankings for the top 100 brands, out of 833 assessed in a cross-category analysis of 85 industry categories in the 2020 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index. Brand Keys’ surveyed 3,265 men and women, 16-65 years of age, from the nine U.S. census regions.

This year, 19% of the top 100 brands customers evaluated – the most of any industry sector – represent retailers who clearly understand the value of loyalty.

Amazon was number one on the loyalty list overall, in the category of online retail, and also landed the number three spot for the video streaming category.

The Home Depot came in next at number eight, shooting up from its 37th position last year. Competitor Lowe's placed 58 on the list. During the pandemic, The Home Depot has partnered with social media influencers to bring its traditional Kids Workshop classes to life online. It has also been working toward the goal of expanding the company’s existing same-day and next-day delivery options to 90% of the U.S. population. 

“It’s important to note that there’s a mix of online and brick-and-mortar retailers on the list,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys. “You can blame the pandemic, sheltering-in, on-line meetings, and sweatpants all you want, but ultimately, whether consumers support a brand and whether the brand survives uncertain circumstances like the pandemic, comes down to how much loyalty the brand engenders.”

Nike was the third retailer to top the list of retailers, bumping up from its 17th position last year to 12 this year. The athletic footwear retailer saw digital sales skyrocket 82% in its recent quarter and its digital business now represents over 30% of its total business, nearly three years ahead of schedule from its own expectations. The retailer’s investments in its app ecosystem continued to fuel its digital transformation during the pandemic. The NIKE Running Club app, for example, had four consecutive months of more than 1 million downloads each month of audio-guided runs.

“For those that have missed the comradery of group runs during the pandemic, runners are telling us they are enjoying the connection and extra push offered by this feature,” CEO John Donahoe recently noted.

“One can’t ignore the effects of the COVID-19 crisis,” noted Passikoff. “The combination of enforced store closures, sheltering-in-place and working from home, and trends towards more casual Zoom-call dress, were a condition only brands with high levels of loyalty could survive.”

“Loyalty guarantees customers will be six times more likely to support the brand during uncertain circumstances,” observed Passikoff. “And you can’t get any more uncertain than the COVID-19 marketplace. Loyalty has always been a leading-indicator of positive customer behavior toward brands.”

While Trader Joe’s is known for its loyal following, the retailer dropped from 9 on last year’s overall list to 20 this year—although it still was the fourth place retailer on the list. T.J. Maxx also dropped, from 38 to 79th place on the overall list.

“Brands need to be responsible for knowing what expectations consumers hold for their category and then meeting them as best they can,” noted Passikoff. That’s the definition of ‘loyalty’ in the 21st century; measure customer expectations, then meet or exceed them. The brands that do, always survive.”

The following is the list of retailers customers voted onto this year’s list. Click here for the full "Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Leaders List 2020."

• Amazon (1)

• Home Depot (8)

• Nike (12)

• Trader Joe’s (19)

• Ebay (22)

• Whole Foods (23)

• Zappos (25

• Sephora (33)

• CVS (41)

• Zara (43)

• Costco (45)

• New Balance (46)

• Ralph Lauren (52)

• Sam’s Club (55)

• Lowe’s (58)

• Old Navy (68)

• T.J. Maxx (79)

• Dollar Tree (80)

• Dick’s Sporting Goods (90)