Victoria’s Secret snuck into the top spot among apparel retailers and Levi’s maintained its top position among apparel and footwear brands in YouGov’s annual BrandIndex for 2012.

Victoria’s Secret, part of Limited Brands Inc., finished in a statistical dead heat with J.C. Penney Co. Inc. among the apparel retailers, both garnering ratings of 21.4 because of rounding. Old Navy was third with a rating of 20.6, followed by Men’s Wearhouse at 18.5 and Macy’s at 16.3.

Each of the top five was among the top finishers in the 2011 study, although in a different order and with higher rankings. In 2011, Penney’s was first at 24.7, Old Navy second at 23.6, Victoria’s Secret third at 22.6, Men’s Wearhouse fourth at 18.7 and Macy’s fifth at 17.6.

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Since June 2007, YouGov PLC has asked consumers whether — through advertising, news or word of mouth from family and friends — they’ve heard anything good or bad about brands in numerous categories of consumer goods and retail in the prior two weeks. A score of 100 would represent universally positive responses and a score of negative 100 universally bad ones. If a consumer hadn’t heard the brand mentioned, the response would be registered as a zero.

The annual numbers represent a compilation of 1.2 million interviews with 5,000 consumers ages 18 and above. More than 1,100 brands are covered.

Among the apparel retailers, the biggest improvements came from Abercrombie & Fitch, which ticked up 1.6 points, but remained in negative territory with a minus 3.3 tally. Nordstrom was up 0.6 points to 8.3, Christopher & Banks up 0.3 points to 2.9, Bealls up 0.2 points to 3.6 and Lucy up 0.2 points to 0.2.

Ted Marzilli, senior vice president and global managing director for the BrandIndex, told WWD, “It’s hard to generate increased buzz on a regular basis without spending a lot on advertising and promotion, and news can sometimes overpower marketing efforts.”

That might have been the case in the apparel and footwear brand category, in which Skechers fell out of the top five after a fifth-place finish in 2011. The company in May agreed to pay $45 million to settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission that it had deceived consumers in claims it made about its toning shoes.


The results, to be released today, were obtained exclusively by WWD. YouGov shares only top-five finishers in several categories in its public disclosures but provides data, current and historical, on all brands and categories to its clients and subscribers.

Levi Strauss & Co.’s Levi’s brand maintained the top spot for apparel and footwear brands, and, as in 2011, Nike, Wrangler and Dr. Scholl’s finished in order behind it. Levi’s fell to 25.7 from 26.4, Nike rose to 23.9 from 22, Wrangler was down to 19.7 from 20.6 and Dr. Scholl’s up to 19.6 from 19.2. New Balance replaced Skechers in fifth place with a 18.1 score.

In a promising sign for Levi’s struggling Dockers brand, it rose to 13.9 from 11.1, the best advance among apparel and footwear labels, with Nike registering the second-largest jump at 1.9 points. Dockers scored 9.4 in the 2010 study.

Among discounters,, which had been placed in another category in 2011, finished first with a 36.8 score, followed by Target at 31.1, down from 33.7; Kohl’s at 26.5, down from 29.5, and Costco at 22.1, down from 22.4. Penney’s, not included in the discount category last year, was fifth at 21.4.

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