The percentage of brands surveyed that use various social media platforms for their influencer marketing.

Engagement Labs, a company that offers social media solutions for brand marketers, said today that most consumer conversations about brands happen offline, according to its research that analyzed over 60 retail brands. The analysis was based on Engagement Labs’ proprietary data, and the company cited Amazon, Nike and Nordstrom as top brands.

The firm’s study ranked the top-performing U.S. retail and apparel brands by “total social” performance. The research also revealed that shoppers still prefer to converse about brands face-to-face in lieu of engaging via social media. The data found that tone and the overall sentiments gleaned from in-person conversations about retail and apparel brands are more likely to positively affect the consumer than when exclusively engaging online.

The top 10 retail and apparel brands ranked consecutively by “total social” performance are: Amazon, Nike, Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret, Adidas, Under Armour, Ulta Beauty, Costco, Forever 21 and Ikea. Amazon, according to the study, is a frequent “conversation commander,” or a brand that performs higher than average online and offline. Its top ranking is won by Amazon’s ability to drive “strong offline sentiment” and high social media engagement online.

Engagement Labs discovered that Nordstrom is the only brand in the ranking with a higher online than offline score, with its online scoring the highest in the category. Nordstrom’s impressive online performance is due to its integration of digital and cross-channel shopping, which strongly appeals to Millennial shoppers. The “experience” of shopping in-store at Nordstrom with its slew of amenities and meticulous attention to customer service details is evidently a spark that spurs online conversations.

Nordstrom's beauty pod.

Nordstrom’s in-store services continuously impress its customer base.  Courtesy Photo

Retailers and apparel brands that didn’t make the cut contributed additional insights regarding consumer engagement. Brands performing well online with low offline performance include H&M, Nike’s Air Jordan, Best Buy and Kohl’s. Inversely, brands distinguished by low online scores with high offline scores are Old Navy, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot. Wal-Mart, a brand that drives a high volume of consumer conversations, did not make the list due to its “low sentiment” scores in online and offline conversations and humdrum marketing efforts.

Ed Keller, the chief executive officer of Engagement Labs, said, “Reflecting one of the biggest trends in the category, ath-leisure brands make a strong showing in the retail and apparel ranker with three of the top six TotalSocial positions held by Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.”

He added, “We know that TotalSocial scores are predictive of future sales, and this strong performance by these ath-leisure brands helps to explain the double-digit growth for this sector when the rest of the apparel category is seeing very low growth. We will keep a careful eye on the trends, but from what we have seen over the past year, there is plenty of reason to believe that analysts’ projections for continued growth ahead are on the mark.”

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