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Study shows Trader Joe's tops customer loyalty in U.S. retail sector

Study shows Trader Joe's tops customer loyalty in U.S. retail sector
This year's study was expanded to reach more than 30,000 U.S. consumers, with ratings for more than 200 brands across 22 industry sectors. This year's study includes new coverage for auto service and repair, drug stores and pharmacies, hardware and home supply stores, hotels, and travel websites. 


Satmetrix®, the Net Promoter® software company and leader in customer experience programs, today released its 2012 Net Promoter Industry Benchmarks for the financial services, insurance, online services, retailing, technology, telecommunications, and travel and hospitality industries. This year's study was expanded to reach more than 30,000 U.S. consumers, with ratings for more than 200 brands across 22 industry sectors. This year's study includes new coverage for auto service and repair, drug stores and pharmacies, hardware and home supply stores, hotels, and travel websites. Winners include admired brands such as USAA,, Costco, Virgin America, Apple, Trader Joe's and Wegmans.

The Satmetrix Net Promoter Benchmarks are based on survey responses from U.S. consumers nationwide who rate their experience with the primary brands they use. The Net Promoter Score, or NPS®, for eachbrand is based on customers' likelihood to recommend the company's product or service in the sector being rated. NPS is calculated as the percentage of customers who are promoters, rating the company 9 or 10 on a 0 to 10 point scale, minus the percentage who are detractors, rating 6 or lower. Consumers also rate each brand on various aspects of customer experience, including product or service features, customer service and overall value, enabling Satmetrix to analyze drivers of loyalty and recommendation.

"Net Promoter has become the industry standard for customer experience management because it correlates strongly with organic growth in most industries," said Deborah Eastman, general manager of consulting at Satmetrix. "The annual benchmark is an important guidepost for executives to understand which brands are truly winning the loyalty of American consumers. It also presents a challenge to many companies, to understand how they can be more effective at listening to the voice of their customers and delivering experiences that are worthy of recommendation."  

The study encompassed 22 specific competitive sectors across seven major industry groups. Highlights include:

·       Financial Services: USAA's direct banking operation led the banking sector again this year with an NPS of 83%, the highest NPS recorded across all brands and industry sectors. Seven banks had more detractors than promoters, with the Wachovia brand (acquired in 2009 by Wells Fargo) trailing the list with an NPS of negative 15%. In the brokerage and investment category, Scottrade moved into the top spot at 54% thanks to a combination of low cost, ease of use and responsive customer service. Among major credit card issuers, American Express (43%) was in top position for the fifth year, having maintained this lead through the financial downturn, despite sector-wide tightening of consumer credit.


·       Insurance: The insurance industry was marked by some of the lowest and highest customer loyalty performance, depending on the line of business and company. USAA dominated both the auto insurance sector at 74% and homeowners insurance at 71%. By contrast, most major health insurers had nearly as many detractors as promoters, tallying up an industry average NPS of just 4% (0% if sector leader Kaiser Permanente is not included). Kaiser Permanente stood out again this year with an NPS of 33% thanks to its innovative business model combining insurance coverage with health care delivery in one coordinated service. For life insurance, State Farm led again this year at 28%.


·       Travel and Hospitality: This industry group had the largest number of new additions to the study in 2012. For airlines, newcomer Virgin America captured the top spot with an NPS of 66%, followed closely by last year's winner, JetBlue Airways, at 64%. American Airlines trailed the sector at negative 5%. In the newly introduced hotel sector, Marriott (56%) and Hilton (55%) led with scores more than 60 points ahead of sector laggard Motel 6. Among the travel websites profiled this year, only TripAdvisor showed a significant differential in its experience, benefitting from its unique hub of consumer reviews combined with travel booking functions to garner an NPS of 33%.


·       Technology: Apple's loyalty performance matched its financial performance in the technology sector this year, again leading in the computer hardware sector with an NPS of 71%. The company also performed well for its consumer software applications, scoring an NPS of 68%.


·       Online Services: In the category of online search and information websites, Google led again this year with an NPS of 56%. Facebook, despite its much-hyped initial public offering, lost 21 points compared to last year's benchmark, dropping to an NPS of 31%. Among online shopping websites, delivered again this year with an NPS of 76%, placing it second among all brands profiled in the study, just behind USAA's direct banking operation.


·       Retailing: Three new retailing sectors were added this year. Auto glass repair specialist Safelite AutoGlass led the new auto service and repair sector with an NPS of 48%, outpacing second place provider Goodyear by more than 25 points. In the drug store and pharmacy sector, Walmart Pharmacy led with an NPS of 40%, while home improvement chain Lowe's led among hardware and home supply retailers at 54%. Specialty grocers earned some of the highest Net Promoter Scores in the overall study, with Trader Joe's and Wegmans tied at 73% in the grocery and supermarkets sector. Among major department, wholesale and specialty retailers, Costco took top honors again this year with an NPS of 71%. New additions Belk and Nordstrom also did well, both earning an NPS of 66%. Echoing its financial woes, Sears trailed among department stores with an NPS of 35%.


·       Telecommunications: Most telecommunication providers continued to struggle with low customer loyalty ratings. Internet service providers tied with health insurers to earn the lowest sector average NPS at just 4%. But it was Internet provider Mediacom that lagged all 202 brands in the study, with a Net Promoter Score of negative 21%. The company's customers cited poor customer service and price increases as common issues. Verizon, the highest scoring Internet service provider, had an NPS of just 18%. Verizon did better in cable and satellite TV service, increasing its score to 37%, up 9 points over last year and placing it in top position. U.S. Cellular (38%) bumped Metro PCS from the top spot in the cellular phone service sector, while T-Mobile slipped to last position at 8% amid the failed merger attempt with rival AT&T.


Full access to the 2012 Net Promoter Benchmark research and underlying results, including NPS distributions for each company, satisfaction ratings with customer experience attributes, consumer comments, and segmentation by demographics and purchase behavior, may be accessed through a reporting website hosted on the Satmetrix Xperience® customer feedback application.


About Net Promoter® and Satmetrix

Net Promoter is both a customer loyalty metric and a discipline for using customer feedback to fuel profitable growth. Developed by Satmetrix, Bain & Company and Fred Reichheld, the concept was first popularized through Reichheld's book The Ultimate Question, and further explored by Richard Owen and Dr. Laura Brooks of Satmetrix in Answering the Ultimate Question. Net Promoter has been embraced by leading companies worldwide as the standard for measuring and improving customer loyalty. Satmetrix is the leading provider of cloud-based customer experience software for companies worldwide. As co-developer of the Net Promoter® methodology, its applications deliver full process support to help companies reduce customer chum, mobilize loyal promoters, generate more powerful insights and drive customer obsession through accountability.


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