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IRUK: Brand Engagement

The latest IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report focuses on Brand Engagement. Emma Herrod shares some of the findings.

The latest IRUK Top500 Dimension Report of 2019, focuses on Brand Engagement and the ways in which Top500 retailers selling in the UK market build their brand and engage with their customers, both online and across different channels. For in a shopping environment that’s highly competitive both online and in-store, building a distinctive brand is as important to retailers that sell consumer brands as it is to the brands themselves.

It is about retailers developing a brand look, feel and voice that shoppers can get to know. When shoppers recognise a brand they are more likely to remember it when they next make a relevant purchase, and when they get to know a brand and see it as reliable, they are more likely to trust it – and to develop an ongoing relationship with it. This is particularly important at a time when many retailers sell the same products and consumer brands: it is key to be the name sticking in consumers’ minds when they consider their next purchases.

The good news is that today there is a wide range of tools available for retailers to use in building their brand’s voice and image – and in this Dimension Report the IR researchers look at how retailers are building followings by sharing images and videos, and by striking up conversations on channels from YouTube to Instagram, Facebook to Twitter. The report looks at how they use email to continue that conversation, and reviews and ratings to bring in other opinions. It also explores the RetailX original research that underpins this Dimension Report.

Amongst the retailers interviewed, is Jack Cooper of Andertons Music who tells Chloe Rigby how the family-run business talks to an audience that extends well beyond its hometown. The third-generation family business trades from a single showroom store in Guildford, Surrey. Yet, to date, its YouTube videos featuring a unique take on the rock’n’roll instruments and equipment that its musician customers buy have been watched, collectively, for 1.03 minutes by viewers around the world – that’s equivalent to 1,963 years and 148 days.

Videos range from 15-minute overviews of the latest guitars, keyboards, other instruments and equipment in its product range, to hour-long interviews with musicians who are key to its product categories.

This activity helps to bring musicians from as far afield as Australia and the US into the store, dropping in to take part in its regular events and masterclasses. It’s also won the retailer a Top50 place in the Brand Engagement Dimension of the IRUK Top500, alongside retailers including Sainsbury’s, Argos and Boots.

Sainsbury’s, according to the IR researchers, puts food at the heart of its social media conversations with shoppers. Its website features a wide range of recipes, themed from Change4life healthy eating recipes through to vegan and family favourites. Website users can see information ranging from how popular those recipes are – the number of people that have saved the recipe is displayed – through to how much the recipes cost per portion, and whether there are any current offers on ingredients. Users can then click to add the ingredients directly to their grocery shopping baskets.

By adding their dietary preferences to the website, shoppers can also be alerted if they choose any items that do not conform to their preferences – a useful piece of personalisation. Shoppers can then go on to share the recipes they have found on the website to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or via email, while saving them for future reference.

The conversation continues across social channels. The retailer’s YouTube channel features a range of ‘how to’ cookery videos, as well as recipe demonstrations while its Twitter channel engages with shoppers predominantly via food-related discussions and by sharing recipes.

Argos, meanwhile, scores well in the report since it has long defined its retail brand through the innovation and technology that it deploys in the shopping experience. Through its strategic use of technology, the retailer offers its customers a range of convenient ways to buy products. That’s important for Argos since many of the general merchandise product it sells are not exclusive. Since last autumn, its customers have been able to browse and order from its range via a new and potentially convenient channel – voice.

The IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement Dimension Report is a useful tool for retailers to understand how leading traders build their brands, and to understand how their own businesses measure up against the benchmark set by members of the IRUK Top500.

It flows from IRUK Top500 research, in which InternetRetailing benefitted from the valued input of its skilled Knowledge Partners. 


Retailers that take the time to strike up and engage in conversations with existing and potential customers stand out in the IRUK Top500 Brand Engagement Dimension. By providing information or inspiration that’s of real value to the people considering buying their products, these traders make it that bit more likely that shoppers will buy. The Report includes 12 highly-practical approaches that leading retailers are taking as they find new ways to open conversations with customer.

  1. Put brand experience to the fore
  2. Find new approaches to loyalty
  3. Leverage utility
  4. Use new technologies to answer questions
  5. Deploy reviews and ratings strategically
  6. Make space to talk
  7. Use images to engage customers
  8. Use new ways to engage
  9. Give shoppers good reasons to sign up
  10. The role of the store in brand awareness…
  11. …and in brand experiences
  12. Use content alongside commerce

As always, InternetRetailing would like to hear what readers think, whether you have views on the metrics used, and how they could be improved, or on an innovative approach that’s working for you as a retailer – please do share your thoughts via

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