Survey says Amazon and Walmart are among the most patriotic brands

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Aug 04, 2020
George Anderson

The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot in American society. One of those things, according to the company behind a survey of the most patriotic brands in the U.S., are the perceptions that many Americans have of retailers and brands.

Brand Keys’ 18th annual survey of consumers on the question of what companies are viewed as patriotic revealed quite a few changes from previous reports. Fourteen of the top 50 brands to make the list are on it for the very first time. Campbell Soup, Clorox, Dominos, Home Depot, Netflix, Purell and Zoom were among those making their debuts.

Consumers are evaluating corporate patriotism within three broad criteria at this point in time according to Robert Passikoff, president of the consultancy: “category, socio-political and therapeutic.”

The national survey of 5,370 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 years was balanced for gender and political affiliation, with organizations viewed as left- or right-leaning, such as MSNBC and Fox News, which were on the list.

“Political polarization, growing consumer tribalism and national social protests have challenged brands this year,” said Mr. Passikoff. “Not only have basic tenets of consumer loyalty and brand engagement been upended, as has the need for how brands define themselves in the context of patriotism.”

Among the biggest movers up the list this year were Amazon.com and Walmart. Amazon jumped 10 places to number two and Walmart moved up six spots to number three. Others that moved up significantly included Google (+8), 7th Generation, Gatorade (+7 each), Apple, Coca Cola and The Washington Post (+6 each).

Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s saw the biggest drops (-12) among businesses making the top 50 list. Starbucks (-5) and Dunkin’ (-4) also moved downward.

“Immediate needs have changed the patriotic paradigm and sheltering-in has affected both people and brands.” said Mr. Passikoff. “Long-established categories have had to make room for brands seen as being more supportive and, thus, more patriotic.”

So how much actual business value is there in having a brand be viewed as patriotic?

“It guarantees consumers will engage more strongly and behave more positively toward the brand. In most cases six times more,” said Mr. Passikoff.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that “basic tenets of consumer loyalty and brand engagement [have] been upended” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic? What are the keys to building brand loyalty at this point in time?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"How do we equate entities that exist to make money for shareholders with 'patriotism?'"
"It seems like a reach for brands to build long-term equity around this concept, instead of the more concrete idea of utility during a crisis."
"Companies are not devoted to one’s country, they are devoted to the company, as they should be. This “patriotic” label is bizarre."

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13 Comments on "Survey says Amazon and Walmart are among the most patriotic brands"


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Mark Ryski
BrainTrust

I think the basic tenets of consumer loyalty and brand engagement haven’t necessarily changed, but they are being impacted by the change in behaviors during the pandemic. Consumers are responding to the retailers and brands that they are engaging with and being exposed to during the pandemic. Notwithstanding the difficult circumstances, the pandemic is creating a situation where brands can really stand out and create lasting, positive impressions.

Joel Goldstein
BrainTrust

As a company that straddles both worlds, I can confirm that this is correct. Most large retailers in the country including regional grocery stores have a program to buy local and promote small business. The ease of working with these companies can sometimes make this difficult, however the opportunity is there.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I’m sorry, but something about this really creeps me out. How do we equate entities that exist to make money for shareholders with “patriotism?”

I mean, Walmart did a great job during the worst of the shortages. Amazon, not at all (hence, they magically had a barrage of earnings). But none of that is what I would call “patriotic.”

And given Amazon’s treatment of its employees, especially early on in the pandemic, having them high on the list just means to me “patriots = companies that sell me stuff quickly.” That’s just weird. And based on a few others on the list it’s also “patriots = companies that share my political and religious values on subjects outside of retail.” That is equally bizarre.

Love of country is a whole other thing. And the kindness of front line workers at places like Walmart is praiseworthy. Maybe that’s just love of humanity and I’m confused.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

Totally agree, Paula. (See my comment below.) Is Netflix really “patriotic,” or does it serve a useful purpose when people are spending so much time at home?

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

“Patriotism” is a hard concept to apply to a provider of consumer goods and services. The perception is apparently shaped by companies who have been able to adapt to the pandemic and to serve the public in new ways. (Who heard of Zoom six months ago?) But how does increased demand and usage equate to patriotism? Is a can of Campbell’s Soup really patriotic? It seems like a reach for brands to build long-term equity around this concept, instead of the more concrete idea of utility during a crisis.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

By the way, I’m old enough to remember the “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie & Chevrolet” campaign from the mid-’70s, in which Chevy tried to wrap itself in the flag in response to the first huge wave of Japanese imports. Trying to use the halo of “patriotism” didn’t work, because the importers made better cars.

My broader point: It’s more relevant to talk about utility, value and other brand attributes instead of trying to ascribe “patriotism” to a consumer product.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I am not sure how much patriotism drives consumers when they are making their shopping decisions. I think there are many more important factors like price, convenience, range, service, and ethics that come into play before patriotic credentials even make it onto the list!

If you ask consumers which American companies they think are great then, of course, they are likely to point to big corporations they know and feel represent a success story. However they might equally feel that the small mom-and-pop hardware or grocery store, which serves the community, and flies the Stars and Stripes outside the shop is equally patriotic. The bottom line is that patriotism doesn’t belong to any company or retailer. All can be patriotic in different ways; it’s such a nebulous concept.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I don’t know why they call their measure “patriotism”? The survey is clearly a measure of what companies we have the most interaction with today. Companies with which the public had limited interaction are down. Companies where public interaction increased are up.

That being said idea to use the word “patriotic” and companies together is absurd. Companies are companies and not citizens. Companies are not devoted to one’s country, they are devoted to the company, as they should be.

This “patriotic” label is bizarre.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Walmart: the retailer that pioneered massive imports of cheap Chinese made retail products at the expense of established American companies.

Amazon: the U.S.’s (maybe the world’s) largest marketplace for imported low-quality items, fakes, and counterfeits, at the expense of established American companies.

Either something is wrong with the citizenry of this country or this survey.

Joel Rubinson
BrainTrust

I could not imagine how I would personally even answer such a survey. A brand can exhibit American values and trumpet American icons — is that being patriotic? Is helping people in need patriotic? Is a brand that hires someone as a spokesperson who kneels for the anthem UNpatriotic? I also find the discussion question to be disconnected from from discussion content. Have tenets of loyalty and engagement been upended? Not at all. We all realize these are unusual times and look forward to returning to normal.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Simply sad that anyone went to do this research. And then the headache producing line: Consumers are evaluating corporate patriotism within three broad criteria…: “category, socio-political and therapeutic.”

Not a chance I could ever connect therapeutic and patriotism or category patriotism. This is ridiculous.

As a good friend of mine observed, like “art” the mere word patriotism has no meaning or means something entirely different to everyone. It’s a conceptual word.

And that’s why it shouldn’t be researched. Sigh. Dear retailers: Stock products consumers want, do it well, and make money by selling it all. End of story.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

During the coronavirus pandemic, consumers have been more “up for grabs” than ever before. Supply chain issues and more have forced shoppers to buy new and different products while stay-at-home orders accelerated e-commerce. So, yes, consumer loyalty and brand engagement are upended and consumers are open. Today, it’s about getting on the list and staying there via direct-to-consumer relationships and being present when shopping digitally.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Sorry, but I’m utterly lost as to what “patriotism,” even under a remarkably broad definition, has to do with Gatorade or donuts. (One might even argue conflating it with brand equity demeans both concepts, but let’s not go there right now.)

Moving on: no I don’t agree that the crisis has upended brand loyalty. On the contrary, I think the need for stability has made people cherish familiar names more than ever.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"How do we equate entities that exist to make money for shareholders with 'patriotism?'"
"It seems like a reach for brands to build long-term equity around this concept, instead of the more concrete idea of utility during a crisis."
"Companies are not devoted to one’s country, they are devoted to the company, as they should be. This “patriotic” label is bizarre."

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