Tesla, Yeti and Target named ‘brands of the year’ in new Forrester report

Tesla, Yeti and Target have been highlighted as ‘brands of the year’ in a new Forrester report.

The study, Brand Spotlight: The Pandemic Persists, And So Do Successful Brands, names these three brands plus a group of direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies as high performers; businesses that have had a blockbuster year and remain poised for success.

According to Forrester, Tesla, Yeti, Target, and a number of DTC fintechs have survived and thrived in a year that strained the resolve and resources of many others. Its report aims to help CMOs better build their brands by learning from the practices of top performing ones.

Tesla’s success derives from many factors — breakthrough innovation, charismatic albeit polarizing leadership, totemic appeal, say researchers. However, there’s one that stands out for Dave Mayer, senior partner at global creative agency Lippincott. It’s what Lippincott calls “progress,” or the capacity for a brand to empower the consumer to do things they couldn’t do before. “By buying into Tesla,” says Mayer, “consumers feel like they are buying into a sustainable tech revolution.” According to Experian, the brand has the most loyal fan base in the industry, with 81% of customers returning to market lease or buy another Tesla.

Yeti, the premium drinkware brand, is described as the “Range Rover” of outdoor products and a shining example of why a strong brand is lucrative. Yeti operates in a crowded and commoditized category yet commands an outsized price premium ($1,300 for the grizzly-proof cooler) — a telltale sign of brand strength, says Forrester.

There is no question that Yeti’s products are built better than most, but the secret sauce of this ‘lifestyle brand’ is the authenticity of the people and the products, says Ben Gaddis, CEO at advertising agency T3.

In Forrester’s previous brand spotlight, Walmart edged out Target, its smaller but equally formidable counterpart. This year, Target hit the bull’s-eye, as the Minneapolis-based retailer’s growth outpaced Walmart’s. Target grew operating income 46% compared to Walmart’s 18% and its price to sales ratio was nearly double that of Walmart, Forrester reports.

The study puts the store at the heart of Target’s pandemic transformation, which CEO Brian Cornell says is “firmly at the center of [its] omnichannel platform”. These stores boast grocery sections that rival supermarkets, private labels that challenge apparel brands, and unique offerings like Ulta Beauty, Forrester says.