According to its just-leaked training manual, US retailer Target aims to catch up with rival Amazon.com by teaching its employees to be more “amazing,” with a “service vibe to make guests feel welcome and comfortable.” However, its customer loyalty seems to be still haunted by a controversial $150,000 donation to MN Forward, which in turn supported a gubernatorial candidate who opposed same-sex marriage made in 2010, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily consumer perception research service of brands.
Since that highly-publicized July 2010 donation, which resulted in calls for a national boycott, Target’s consumer recommendation levels have remained below pre-crisis numbers and have eroded steadily since September 2011. At the same time, online retail giant Amazon’s consumer recommendation scores have been heading the opposite way, creating a growing customer loyalty gap between the two brands.
From October 2007 through the July 2010 controversy, Target actually led Amazon consistently in consumer recommendation scores, but it seems the crisis cost Target much more than donation money in the two-plus years since then.
Target and Amazon were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s “Recommend” score, which asks respondents: "Would you recommend the brand to a friend or colleague or tell a friend or colleague to avoid the brand?" All respondents are age 18 and over.
YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
From October 2007 to July 2010, Target’s recommend score hovered between 51 and 53, while Amazon fluctuated between 47 and 50 in the same time period.
Once the political donation news broke in July 2010 and became a political flashpoint, the two brands took different paths: while Amazon went on to climb modestly from 53 to its current 56 score, Target’s score fell for more than three months, from 53 down to 44 at the end of October. Since that bottom point, Target’s highest recommend score was 50 in February 2011, but it is currently at 46.
YouGov BrandIndex (www.brandindex.com) interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative US population sample, more than 1.2 million interviews per year. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of more than 1.5MM individuals.