Walmart, TJMaxx wage hikes affect consumer, worker perceptions differently

When Walmart (NYSE:WMT) announced it would increase minimum wage for its employees last month, it boosted consumer approval of the brand to the highest levels in two months. But the announcement did not seem to change the perception of the big-box retailer as a good place to work, according to YouGov BrandIndex, a brand consumer research service.

On the flip side, when TJMaxx (NYSE:TJX) and Marshall's made a similar announcement following Walmart's lead, perception of the retailers as providers of a good employee environment went up. However, the consumer perception of TJMaxx went unchanged, and for Marshall's it only slightly improved.

"From a consumer perspective, the concept of being proud to work at a particular retailer is quite different than being a loyal customer or seeing better value," said Ted Marzilli, CEO, YouGov BrandIndex. "In this instance, consumers may not be proud to work at Walmart, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't want to shop there, find good value there or recommend it to their friends."

YouGov BrandIndex surveyed 2,500 adults over the course of two weeks. The reputation scores were based on a scale from 100 to -100, with zero equaling a neutral position.

Currently, consumers view Walmart at a -9, which is lower than it was on New Year's Day, when it was valued at -1. The retailer has only reached zero once in the past 16 months, and that was in March of last year.

For TJMaxx and Marshall's, both owned by TJX Corp., reputation scores had been sliding since mid-January, but after the wage announcements, the retailers gained four to five points.

"As for value perception, our metrics show Walmart to be ahead of both TJMaxx and Marshall's by a healthy amount," said Marzilli. "We ran our Recommend scores on these same three retailers—it asks respondents, 'Would you recommend the brand to a friend?' While both TJX brands are modestly ahead of Walmart, Walmart's Recommend scores have risen since Feb. 24.

"Consumers just don't seem to perceive Walmart as a brand they would be proud to work for. After years of being subjected to negative press and lawsuits regarding how it treats it employees, unfairly or not, that part of Walmart is going to be hard to shake."

For more:
-See this YouGov BrandIndex survey

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