News of Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday got me thinking about how people buy and who they buy from, and I was reminded of the findings on this topic from APCO Worldwide’s 2014 Champion Brand study. In the study, we found that than a third of Americans say corporate practices influence their buying decisions. Specifically, 35 percent of Americans stated that in the previous year they decided to BUY or NOT buy a company’s products or service specifically because of their view of the company’s practices, policies or activities; not because they didn’t like the product.

If people’s assessments of the company’s actions – not just the company’s products – figures so heavily in consumer purchasing decisions, then it’s useful to note the top retailers in the United States and Canada that have earned their customers’ business by meeting their expectations for how a company should act and add value to their lives and society. Who are the top Champion Brand retailers in the United States and Canada?

APCO’s Champion Brand study, conducted in partnership with the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, measures how companies are meeting these expectations against four key elements:

  • Alignment: meeting stakeholders’ most important expectations
  • Authenticity: acting in a way that is consistent with what the company says
  • Attachment: forging deeper emotional connections between stakeholders and companies
  • Advocacy: acting on behalf of stakeholders’ interests to add value to society

When all four of these criteria are considered together, Amazon, Costco and Walgreens rank as the top Champion Brand retailers in the United States and Canada, respectively. However, when each element is considered one by one, an additional set of retailers standout.

Highest Ranking Retailers in Champion Brand Index
  1. Amazon
  2. Costco
  3. Walgreens
When it comes to aligning the corporate brand with the interests all of its stakeholders (customers, local communities, employees, shareholders, government, environment and suppliers); Amazon, eBay and Home Depot top the list. Alignment
  1. Amazon
  2. eBay
  3. Home Depot
By contrast, Netflix, Costco and Walgreens are seen to be the most authentic. Americans and Canadians say these companies’ actions match what the company says it stands for. Authenticity
  1. Netflix
  2. Costco
  3. Walgreens
Amazon, Target and Toys R Us lead the list of retailers when it comes to the emotional attachment Americans and Canadians form with the corporate brand. Attachment
  1. Amazon
  2. Target
  3. Toys R Us
Amazon, Target, and Costco are rated the highest for advocacy. Americans and Canadians believe these companies do the best job of achieving their business objectives while adding value to society. Advocacy
  1. Amazon
  2. Costco
  3. Target
Karen Buerkle

Karen Buerkle, managing director of APCO Insight in Washington, D.C., provides opinion research and analytical services for corporations, governments and nongovernmental organizations. Read More