Millennials give more weight to brands

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Millennials award higher brand equity to most retail categories than older generations, according to a recent Harris Poll. In fact, they hold higher brand equity in all categories assessed other than hardware and home stores, which were favored by baby boomers. 

Looking at Harris Poll’s 29th annual EquiTrend Study, sporting goods store brand equity is 7.7 points higher among millennials compared to baby boomers, while luxury department stores and electronics stores are nearly 6 points higher. Millennials’ brand equity score for off-price retailers is 4.9 points higher compared to baby boomers, while footwear and department stores are 4 points and 3.8 points higher, respectively. Only hardware and home stores have lower brand equity, 3.8 points less, among millennials compared to baby boomers.

“Strong brand equity—including greater familiarity with your brand, a greater bond with your brand, a better-perceived quality of your brand—translates into a larger share of wallet,” said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll. “It’s no secret that the retail industry is undergoing tremendous challenges, but knowing how to best cater to different customer segments is critical. As a result, several retailers are working to revamp their stores into ‘millennial playgrounds’ to help woo and wow desired customers.”

Brands that ranked top of their category include Kohl’s (department store), Best Buy (electronics store), DSW (footwear store), The Home Depot (hardware and home store), Nordstrom (luxury department store), TJ Maxx (off-price retailer), and Dick’s Sporting Goods (sporting goods store). 

By category, off-price is the only retail category to increase its brand equity from last year’s poll, up 2.1 points. For Generation X, off-price was up 3 points, though that generation had negative growth for all other categories. Baby boomers awarded a positive equity growth in the categories of off-price (1.3 points) and hardware and home stores (0.4 points). 

When it comes to luxury brands, consumers give stronger equity to mainstream department stores versus luxury department stores. 

Kohl’s, which held the title from 2012 to 2015, reclaimed its title as top department store from Macy’s. Although Kohl's has lower familiarity ratings than JCPenney and Sears, it shows higher marks overall for quality and purchase consideration. The retailer got back on top thanks to a push from Gen X consumers, with higher familiarity and purchase consideration ratings.