The retail industry retained its 2019 spot and ranked fourth out of the 15 industries studied in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2020 Study, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions. MBLM (pronounced Emblem), the agency using emotional science to build more intimate brands during these unprecedented times, announced that Amazon topped the industry. The brand also ranked #1 overall in the 2020 study. In retail, Amazon was followed by Walmart and Costco, which placed second and third, respectively. Brand Intimacy is defined as the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love, and has become increasingly important as brands adjust the ways they connect with consumers today.

MBLM’s study, now in its 10th year, revealed that the remaining brands in the top 10 for the retail industry were Target, Whole Foods, Sephora, Macy’s, Ikea, eBay and Nordstrom. Additionally, top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to the study.

Amazon’s popularity has increased further during COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of July, the company announced that net sales for Q2 2020 were $88.9 billion, compared to $63.4 billion in the second quarter of 2019.1 The brand also continues to find new ways of attracting customers, for example, it recently became Toys R Us’ online sales partner.2 In addition to Amazon, Walmart and Target have also seen record second quarter sales or profits metrics due to a rise in ecommerce when states enacted store closures during the pandemic.3

“Amazon dominated MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2020 Study, ranking #1 not only in the retail industry but our overall study,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “Its use of technology to create personalized customer experiences has contributed to its success and the brand has become an important part of its users’ lives. Consumers also increased their reliance on Amazon during the pandemic, when they turned to the retail giant for their shopping needs. We see other brands in this industry following Amazon’s lead and trying to also evolve their services, focusing on meeting the needs of consumers, especially during today’s challenging times.”

Additional significant retail industry findings in the U.S. include:

  • The U.S. retail industry had an average Brand Intimacy Quotient of 42.5
  • Amazon had broad appeal: both men and women ranked Amazon as their favorite intimate brand
  • Similarly, Amazon led among multiple consumer age groups, with both millennials and those over 35 years old choosing it as their most intimate retail brand
  • Amazon also ranked #1 in the industry among consumers with incomes both over and under $100,000
  • Fulfillment, which is related to performance, was the archetype most associated with the category (last year it was enhancement), and here too, Amazon was the top-performing retail brand for fulfillment

The Brand Intimacy 2020 Report contains the most comprehensive rankings of brands based on emotion, analyzing the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the U.S., Mexico and UAE. MBLM’s reports and rankings tool showcase the performance of almost 400 brands, revealing the characteristics and intensity of the consumer bonds.

To view the retail industry findings, please click here. Additionally, MBLM offers Custom Dashboards providing extensive data for brands included in its annual Brand Intimacy Study. To download the full Brand Intimacy 2020 Study or explore the Rankings click here.


During 2019, MBLM with Praxis Research Partners conducted an online quantitative survey among 6,200 consumers in the U.S. (3,000), Mexico (2,000), and the United Arab Emirates (1,200). Participants were respondents who were screened for age (18 to 64 years of age) and annual household income ($35,000 or more) in the U.S. and socioeconomic levels in Mexico and the UAE (A, B and C socioeconomic levels). Quotas were established to ensure that the sample mirrored census data for age, gender, income/socioeconomic level, and region. The survey was designed primarily to understand the extent to which consumers have relationships with brands and the strength of those relationships from fairly detached to highly intimate. It is important to note that this research provides more than a mere ranking of brand performance and was specifically designed to provide prescriptive guidance to marketers. We modeled data from over 6,200 interviews and approximately 56,000 brand evaluations to quantify the mechanisms that drive intimacy. Through factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and other sophisticated analytic techniques, the research allows marketers to better understand which levers need to be pulled to build intimacy between their brand and consumers. Thus, marketers will understand not only where their brand falls in the hierarchy of performance but also how to strengthen performance in the future.

To read a more detailed description of MBLM’s approach, visit its Methodology page.


2. Target Is Out, Amazon Is In as Toys ‘R’ Us’ New Online Sales Partner
3. Government shutdowns of “nonessential” retailers were a huge gift for Amazon, Walmart, and Target

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