Sponsored Content: Ad Improvements Could Strengthen Local Appeal of Costco, Sam’s Club

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It’s a bargain every time.

Members of the wholesale retail chains Sam’s Club and Costco swear by the low costs that come with buying in bulk, and locations cater their offerings to the local market. But to drive new customers to their stores, these two companies could take a fresh look at their branding strategies and interactions with customers.

Sam’s Club and Costco competed in the July Brand Battle, a regular series on Street Fight sponsored by digital marketing company Where2GetIt. Where2GetIt calculated brand scores for each company, basing the final scores on data evaluating six branding “pillars”: data quality, local SEO, reviews, local advertising, engagement and competition. Each pillar speaks to how the companies perform in local markets, and scores can be updated every week as marketing strategies are analyzed and modified.

The July bout between Sam’s Club and Costco was the closest of all the Brand Battles we’ve run so far, with the two companies’ final scores only five points apart. Sam’s Club barely pushed Costco out of the winning spot with a final brand score of 645; Costco’s final brand score was 640.

Most importantly, this close race highlighted how even when scores are similar, company marketing strategies can be vastly different. Sam’s Club showed strength in its data quality, with more consistently accurate local listings than Costco. It also scored higher on social engagement pillar with a strategy focused Facebook and Twitter, compared to Costco’s approach on Pinterest and Instagram. Sam’s Club’s social engagement strategy earned it a score of 29 out of 50 points in this pillar, with Costco trailing behind with 21 points out of 50.

Costco’s social media platform choices were reflected in its brand score, but Costco’s reviews were better than Sam’s Club. Out of all of Costco customer reviews, 59 percent were rated with 4 and 5 stars, making Costco 22 percent more likely to receive a 4 or 5 star rating over Sam’s Club customers and giving the company a score of 37 points out of 60 for the reviews pillar. For Sam’s Club, customers left a one-star review twice as often as Costco customers, ending with a reviews pillar score of only 19 out of 60.

Where both companies need to focus, according to Where2GetIt, is local advertising. Sam’s Club scored slightly higher with 12.5 points out of 40, with Costco scoring 10 out of 40 possible points.

View all the findings on the Brand Battle page.