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A New Report Named These Brands ‘Genius’ Status for Their Agility

Despite retail’s uncertainty, some brands are still coming out ahead with their advanced initiatives, past investment assessments and responsiveness to new trends.

L2, a business intelligence firm, recently ranked 2,303 brands in its “In the Company of Genius 2017” report, and 94 brands, including Adidas, Amazon and Nike, earned the genius moniker for their ability to adapt to retail’s new digital landscape.

The report evaluated these brands based on five criteria: making it personal, keeping checkout close, building visibility with e-tailers, modernizing digital marketing and revitalizing store networks. These leading brands are staying competitive with personalization, compelling website content, merchandising tools, mobile-friendly advertisements and integrating omnichannel experiences. Each genius brand was provided  with an L2 digital IQ score based on performance within the five criteria, with 140 as the minimum score and 161 as the maximum score. Genius brands were further categorized into retail categories, including U.S. activewear, U.S big box retailers, global department stores, U.S. fashion retailers and watches & jewelry. 

Nike, Macy’s and Gucci excel in specific genius criteria 

Brand leaders, including Nike, are leveraging data to tap into consumers’ product needs and facilitating more personalized product journeys. Digital product customization has enabled Nike to take part in the product creation process and boost online engagement. The retailer, which earned an L2 digital IQ score of 147, recently debuted NIKEiD—an online product customization tool allowing users to change a base model according to the colors, graphics and sports logos and create their own product. According to L2, more than half of genius ranking brands with direct-to-consumer e-commerce are using a live chat adoption to facilitate consumer conversations.

Anytime, anywhere checkout is becoming more of a reality for consumers, and retailers like Macy’s are transforming look books into shoppable catalogs with “Add to Cart” and “Shop Now” buttons. Macy’s, which earned an L2 digital IQ score of 142, aims to increase its conversion rate by leveraging the power of its website, social media and search strategies to get consumers to buy items. On its website, Macy’s features single-page checkout and quick view, so consumers can seamlessly buy products. What’s more, the brand has made investments in Google Shopping ads to boost consumer activity and purchases.

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Advertising strategies are another priority of genius brands like Gucci, which is gaining visibility through multiple digital devices. The luxury brand, which earned an L2 digital IQ score of 144 and offers direct-to-consumer e-commerce, increased its Google Shopping ad spend in 2017 to stay ahead of the game. Gucci currently owns more than 60 percent of Google Shopping ads that appear against its branded terms compared to the Fashion Index average of 46 percent. According to L2, genius brands have decreased desktop display impressions by 10 percent in the U.S. and opting instead to invest more in desktop video expressions for heightened consumer reach.

[Read more about retail business strategy: 2018 Consumers Are Different so Your Brands Need to be Too]

Genius brands honored by specific retailer categories

Well-renowned apparel brands, department stores and e-commerce outlets also achieved genius status.

U.S. activewear brands, including Under Armour, Adidas and L.L. Bean, made the cut for L2’s genius title. Sports specialist Under Armour, which earned an L2 digital IQ score of 143, was recognized for its digital engagement efforts, including a robust Rule Yourself Olympics campaign and personal fitness tracking apps.

Adidas earned an L2 digital IQ score of 142, primarily for its advanced Messenger chatbot function and share of Google text ads in the performance footwear sector. Outdoor brand L.L. Bean received an L2 digital IQ score of 141 for its loyalty program credit card integration and email segmentation marketing efforts.

Amazon claimed genius status in L2’s big box U.S. retailer category. The e-commerce giant earned an L2 digital IQ score of 152—racking up the highest traffic in the genius index and appearing organically in online searches against more than 60 percent of consumers’ unbranded searches.

Nordstrom joined Macy’s in the genius global department store category and was recognized for is buy-online, pick-up-in-store feature and social media engagement leadership. The company, which received an L2 digital IQ score of 140, led the genius group on Facebook with consumer interactions per post 20 times higher than the genius group social media average.

Michael Kors was recognized as the top U.S. fashion retailer, earning an L2 digital IQ score of 143 and achieving the most SEO visibility on women’s handbag terms. Additionally, the brand has an above-average presence on social media platforms, including Instagram and YouTube.

For the U.S. watches & jewelry category, Tiffany & Co. topped the list, earning a L2 digital IQ score of 141. The brand was recognized for its e-commerce editorial content and its mobile apps for finding engagement rings and booking jewelry service appointments.