The study, which rated the top 100 retailers by how loved they are by consumers, also identified a direct correlation between an “emotive brand connection and commercial return”.
The firm said brand love has a “positive impact” on customer word-of mouth and commitment, as well as the “willingness to pay a price premium”.
Caroline Hawkings, a spokesperson for Savanta, said the top three brands were “unified by customer connection”, and added: “They’ve all nailed one or more of the key factors in retail: value, a clear product advantage, and convenience.
“Amazon leads with convenience, Aldi offers great value for money, and M&S Simply Food tempts us with its premium, yet accessible, and innovative (take a look at its Plant Kitchen) range.”
She continued: “All three have built customer relationships which go beyond the functional. Our data highlights the importance of making a deeper and more personal connection in a climate of fierce competition and abundant choice.”
The study also revealed the “dominance” of brands which “win at convenience” – most notably those with strong online presence.
Hawkings said: “Whilst these are undoubtedly turbulent times for the retail industry, our research highlights the opportunities there are for brands to survive and thrive.
“Retailers need to establish deeper, more emotive brand connections with customers, which ensure standout and differentiation. The brands most adept at fully embracing true customer affinity – or love – will prosper.”