Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the brand consumers like best for computers, smartphones and tablets, according to poll results released last week by Harris Interactive. But though you wouldn't know it from the press coverage, Harris asked about retailers too—and Target (NYSE:TGT), Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) and Costco (NASDAQ:COST) topped their respective categories.
Target beat Walmart and Kmart among mass merchandisers. Kohl's came out ahead of Macy's and JCPenney among department stores. Costco won over Sam's Club and BJ's. Marshall's (NYSE:TJX) topped Ross and TJMaxx among off-price apparel retailers. Subway walked away with the quick-service restaurant category (McDonald's came in sixth). And among grocers...well, apparently Harris doesn't believe anyone cares about what grocery store they go to.
But online, there was a shift: Walmart (NYSE:WMT) won for online mass merchandise, while Kohl's still won for department stores and (surprise!) Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) came away as top e-tailer.
The survey asked 38,000 U.S. consumers about 150,000 brands in 155 categories, although Harris's published results only show 133 categories.
These horse-race surveys are usually pretty useless for anything except bragging rights, and this one is no exception—for example, it put Craigslist in the same category as Amazon. And those categories do matter. Walmart competes hard against all those grocers who apparently fell through a hole in the survey. But Walmart also actually competes against so-called "value stores"—the dollar stores plus Big Lots—and in many other categories. The retailers in those categories know what kind of a threat Walmart is. You wouldn't know that from the survey results.
The one category where Walmart, Target and Costco did get a second bite of the apple was in pharmacy. They might as well have been no-shows: Despite the volume of prescriptions they handle, all three were trounced by winner Walgreens (NYSE:WAG), as well as by CVS and Rite Aid.
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