New research reveals which brands make high streets more attractive

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Value trumps everything else when it comes to what retail brands we want on our high streets, according to new research unveiled today.

The Retail Buying Study 2018 conducted by media agency UM asked 4,800 adults in the UK which stores shoppers most wanted nearby when they moved into a new neighbourhood, looking across 12 major retail product sectors. Stores that came out tops are:

  • Groceries – Tesco (50%)
  • Home improvement – B&Q (62%)
  • Electronics and appliances – Argos (57%)
  • Apparel – Primark (47%)
  • Food/drink – Costa (38%)
  • New kitchen/bathroom – IKEA (62%)
  • Optician – Specsavers (53%)
  • Toys – Argos (46%)
  • Beauty – Superdrug (46%)
  • Jewellery – Pandora (34%)
  • Tyres – Kwik Fit (36%)
  • Alcoholic drinks – Tesco (43%)

It found that B&Q is far and away the DIY retailer that most Brits would want nearby if they moved to a new neighbourhood. Almost two-thirds (62%) chose it, with Swedish furniture giant IKEA the most popular choice for new kitchens/bathrooms, also with 62%, and Primark the number one option in high street fashion with 47%.

Perhaps surprisingly, Argos was the number one choice among consumers for both toys and for electronics and appliances, chosen by 57% of UK adults and ranking considerably above traditional high street favourite John Lewis (43%) in the latter category.

The competition among food and drink retailers was much tighter, with Costa eventually coming top with 38% of the vote, just ahead of Greggs on 36%.

The study also found that a number of the brands that scored lowest in their categories for this shopper ‘share of heart’ have also announced profit warnings, declining sales or even closures in recent months: examples include Carphone Warehouse for electronics (7%), Toys ‘R’ Us for toys (15%) and sandwich chain EAT for food/drink (13%).

Glen Parker, chief insight officer EMEA at UM, comments: “Our research indicates that retailers should focus on the value proposition and on integrating the on- and offline shopping experience when it comes to claiming everyday share of heart with shoppers. With the UK high street still under considerable pressure, retailers know they need to be loved. This insight is one they should be acting on.

“The fact that Argos is ranked top in two separate categories might come as a surprise to some, but it’s a retailer that completely understands the huge growth of ‘webrooming’ and how shoppers are looking for inspiration and choice online before they step foot in a store. Its whole business model is based on online research leading to an in-store purchase, and people love the ease and value of shopping that Argos provides as a result.”

Dr Dimitrios Tsivrikos, a retail/consumer psychologist at University College London, adds: “The high street experience is changing beyond recognition and this is catching out a lot of big brands. The emotion of shopping has never mattered more.

“Retailers might need to be loved by shoppers, but that doesn’t mean trying to create a long-term marriage that lasts for decades. They might be more successful by looking for Tinder-style hook-ups instead and offering their customers short bursts of pleasurable in-store experience.”

The UK findings are part of a broader analysis of consumer shopping habits and behaviours compiled by media agency UM for its Retail Buying Study 2018, which covered more than 50,000 shoppers in 11 countries across Europe.