Most influential brands: Tech dominates, but Walmart, Loblaws and PC Optimum score high marks


Loblaw Companies Limited’s loyalty program PC Optimum cracks the top 10 for the first time

Chris Powell | February 10, 2021

The latest edition of the annual Ipsos Most Influential Brands in Canada rankings once again demonstrates the ubiquity and power of big tech in the life of Canadians, with brands such as Google (#1), YouTube (#3) and Facebook (#5) occupying seven of the top 10 positions.

This year’s ranking did produce some surprises, however, including the Loblaws Companies Limited loyalty brand PC Optimum cracking the top 10 for the first time, moving up two spots to 10th overall.

Compiled by the Association of Canadian Advertisers and Ipsos in partnership with advertising agency Publicis Canada, the study ranks more than 100 brands across five key dimensions: trustworthiness, presence, being leading edge, corporate citizenship and engagement.

This year’s study saw the addition of COVID as one of the dimensions, reflecting what Ipsos called the “help, sincerity and caring that some brands demonstrated.” The findings are based on polling of a representative sample of more than 6,000 Canadians.

Walmart was the highest-ranked retailer in the annual list, holding onto ninth place for the third consecutive year. It was one of the few brick-and-mortar retailers to weather the pandemic unscathed, said Ipsos, noting that its influence is driven by a combination of presence (408 stores across the country) and trust.

Ipsos also identified Loblaws, which moved up seven spots to 46th in the rankings, as a brand that “responded deftly” to the pandemic. According to Ipsos’s Consumer Check-In Mystery Shop study, it led in the “Consumers feeling safe” category. Its score of 96% was five points above the grocery category, and eight points above the category average.

Ipsos noted that Loblaws was among the first grocery retailers to put practices that would become standard across the industry. That included placing one-way aisle traffic and social distancing markers in stores, as well as reducing delivery fees, launching next-day meal kits and providing priority store access to seniors and frontline workers. The company has also communicated to Canadians “in a meaningful way” throughout the pandemic, said Ipsos.

The Loblaw-owned PC Optimum brand, meanwhile, cracked the top 10 for the first time ever, which Ipsos called “impressive” since the brand (which brought together Loblaw’s PC Plus and Shoppers Drug Mart’s Optimum programs in 2018) is relatively new. The study found the majority of its influence is driven by high scores among consumers in the trustworthy and engagement dimensions, which drive its influence more than fellow brands in the top 10.

PC Optimum also outpaced its counterparts in the top 10 on the COVID-19 dimension, thanks to the launch of tools such as the PC Health app, which awards points for completing health goals and challenges and buying health-and wellness-related items. “By taking care of us, PC Optimum is taking care of its brand,” the study concluded.

Other grocery retailers on the list of 100 brands include Shoppers Drug Mart (#16), No Frills (#52), Metro (#68), Sobeys (#76) and Whole Foods (#99). Among food/grocery brands, disinfectant brands Lysol (#23) and Purell (#28) both cracked the top 30, a reflection of their growing importance during the pandemic.

Despite tech’s dominance, food and grocery brands were prominently featured on the list, including Kraft (#30), Advil (#31), Coca-Cola (#33), Dove (#40), Kellogg’s (#47), Procter & Gamble (#50), Tide (#53), Colgate (#55), Pepsi (#59), General Mills (#67), Heinz (#77), Nestlé (#84) and McCain (#91).