Engagement Labs’ TotalSocial® Rankings Reveal Leading UK Retail Brands Based on Word of Mouth and Social Media Conversations

LONDON, UK (June 6, 2017) – In a new, first of its kind analysis of combined offline and online consumer conversations, Engagement Labs released its TotalSocial® rankings on the top performing retail brands in the U.K. for social engagement. The rankings are based on Engagement Labs’ proprietary TotalSocial® data, which continuously measures the most important drivers of brand performance with respect to social media and word of mouth conversations.

Although it might seem that consumer shopping choices are greatly influenced by the digital world (influencers, fashion blogs, etc.), the analysis of 50 top non-food retailers measured, conversations about retail brands still mostly happen offline, in face-to-face or so-called ‘dark social’ conversations, as opposed to via public posts in online social media. This is true even for digital-only retailers such as Asos and Very.

The nature of offline and private conversation is very different to that visible in Twitter or blogs, according to Engagement Labs. “It’s more casual and spontaneous, often triggered by a store or web visit and of course more intimate,” said Steve Thomson, Managing Director, UK, Engagement Labs. “In tone or sentiment, face-to-face conversations about retail brands are much more likely to be positive than if a consumer goes online. Hence brands need to assess how they perform across all social channels, including the real-world,” he said.


According to the TotalSocial analysis, John Lewis is the clear leader and is also a well-established Conversation Commander, which is defined as a brand that performs above-average both offline and online. John Lewis’ top rank is driven by its extremely strong offline (word of mouth) performance, with exceptionally high sentiment in real-world conversation, strong volumes and high brand sharing performance, which is the sharing of branded content by consumers on social media. Online scores are also above-average, with the #BusterTheBoxer Christmas ad helping to drive high brand sharing in this channel.

The other top performers include stores of many types, including discounters such as Home Bargains (number six on the top UK retailers ranking) and B&M (ranked nine). As with supermarkets, the discounters have strong social capital, with positive sentiment and a sense of relevance to all – they are easy brands to recommend to friends regardless of their personal circumstances and budgets. B&M’s social feeds are also driving high levels of online brand sharing. Further down the rankings, IKEA scores well ahead of other furniture and décor retailers. As with the discounters, IKEA’s mass relevance helps drive good volumes.

Thomson continued, “Reflecting one of the biggest trends in the category, discounter brands make a strong showing in the retail rankings. We know that TotalSocial scores are predictive of future sales, and this strong performance by these discounter brands helps to explain strong commercial performance while many retailers are struggling. 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 are on the mark.”

In the US, Amazon topped Engagement Labs’ rankings and not surprisingly they rank high in the UK. Not the highest though: online-only retailers lack the physical presence that drives the high volume of conversation brands like Boots enjoy. Amazon is piloting physical mini-stores in the US which may correct that imbalance somewhat.

One major retailer that is notably missing from the top performers list is Marks & Spencer, despite driving a large volume of consumer conversations. But, many of those conversations are about food and drink, the most vibrant part of M&S’ business, and for the sake of fairness we are excluding these. But even in the more challenged fashion category, M&S scores better on some dimensions than one might expect – sentiment is very positive, for example. The main problem is that M&S talkers are mainly older – yes, many of these shoppers are still fond of the brand. It’s not that young people are negative towards M&S – the brand is just not on their radar, and the immediate challenge is to get into the conversations of younger people. A secondary issue is that sentiment dips among the 40-49 age group, a target group which should be accessible to M&S.

To learn more about Engagement Labs or TotalSocial insights and how to increase your brand’s word of mouth in real life and online, reach out at:

All retail brands included in this analysis are non-food.

About Engagement Labs

Engagement Labs (TSXV:EL) is the world’s first TotalSocial® company, offering intelligent data, analytics and insights for marketers. We are leaders in tracking, measuring and benchmarking the impact of conversations happening around a brand and industry – both online and offline. Consumer conversations are a proven driver of critical business outcomes, including sales. The patent pending TotalSocial data solution provides brands with unique insights and powerful analytics to understand online and offline social impact and drive business results. TotalSocial demonstrates to marketers how their online and offline conversation compare and contrast and helps identify areas of competitive opportunity or significant emerging threats. TotalSocial is an “always-on” proprietary scoring system, based on the most important drivers of brand performance: Volume, Sentiment, Brand Sharing and Influence. TotalSocial was built on the pillars of Engagement Labs’ patented social media measurement tool and the world’s only offline word of mouth tracking system for brands and tracks 350 brands within the UK across 17 major industry categories, and 500 brands in the US.

Engagement Labs has offices in London, New York and Montreal.

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