PepsiCo and Walmart claim top spots in Kantar PoweRanking

Our report, now in it's 25th year, shows optimism among retailers and manufacturers despite challenges presented by COVID-19.
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PepsiCo tops the rankings of best-in-class manufacturers in the 2021 US PoweRanking® report for the sixth consecutive year. Walmart was number one in the ranking among retailers, a position it has held every year since the report's inception in 1997. 

The 25th Anniversary PoweRanking report, “A Generation Of Transformation,” details a U.S. retail industry that is moving forward while still managing the effects of the pandemic. The analysis found that the shared adversity of battling through COVID-19 disruptions has strengthened the resolve of the industry and instilled confidence in its ability to overcome obstacles. Both retailers and manufacturers remain highly optimistic about prospects for the future.

PepsiCo topped all nine metrics used for the ranking, leveraging a clear strategy, strong insight development and by bringing a category-first approach to retail partners. Coca-Cola, P&G, Apple and Kraft Heinz rounded out the top five spots, with Apple jumping two spots and Kraft-Heinz up three spots from last year’s analysis.

Walmart held the top spot among retailers for the 25th year due to it strength, scale and focus over that time. Target took second, moving up one spot from 2020, on the basis of momentum with its guests, store environment, enhancement of omni-commerce options and relationships with its manufacturing partners. Kroger, Amazon and Costco also placed in the top five.

Retail PoweRanking 2021 Chart

“Over the 25 years we have been conducting the PoweRaking analysis, we’ve learned that while leadership metrics endure over time, each year has its own lessons to teach,” says Patrick Fellin, Partner, Head of Go-to-Market Strategy, Kantar North America. “Certainly, 2021 was unique unto itself, coming out of an unprecedented crisis that produced a more demanding and complex shopper base and resulting in a greater need for agility and innovation. Both retailers and manufacturers have responded and what is most striking in this year’s report is how this has manifested into great optimism and excitement for the future.”

Our report identified five themes emerging from 2021:

  • Weariness from the “18-month year” brought about by COVID-19
  • Enduring supply chain challenges
  • The difficulty of navigating macroeconomic forces around labor and inflation
  • The divergent shopper puzzle as consumers react to limited product availability from supply constraints
  • The emerging post-COVID-19 retailer-manufacturer partnership and the struggle to find common direction 

PoweRanking is based on customized questionnaires developed for retailer and wholesaler respondents in food, drug, mass merchandise, dollar, convenience, specialty, and club channels, as well as for manufacturers in food, household products, general merchandise and health and beauty care categories.

Retailers and manufacturers are asked to rank each other in criteria that fall into two broad areas:

  • Strategic metrics such as company strategy, brand impact and, for manufacturer evaluation, the best combination of growth and profitability, and for retailers, those projected to be most powerful in 15 years.
  • Business fundamentals such as best companies to business with, marketing innovation, merchandising innovation, supply chain management and best use of digital platforms.

In 2020, best in sustainability was also added as a criterion. Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestle and P&G were recognized as the top five performers among manufacturers in this category for 2021, with Walmart, Target, Amazon, Kroger and Costco the top among retailers.

Results to the questionnaires are tabulated on a two-year rolling basis and qualitative interviews are also conducted among a sampling of respondents.

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