Whether they’re at the higher end of the spectrum like Myer and David Jones, or more budget-focused like Kmart, Target and BigW, Australia’s department stores share a common goal: as many customers as possible. To achieve this, they need to ensure they’re projecting the right image for their target market: that they have good quality products, for example, or low prices, or a good range of brands. So how do Australians perceive our biggest department stores? Having measured the image of these stores for many years, Roy Morgan Research reveals the latest public perceptions.

The big three

When it comes to customer volume, bragging rights go to discount department store giants, Kmart, Target and Big W. In an average four-week period, 22.6% of the population (or 3.6 million people) buy something at Kmart, just ahead of the 19.5% (3.1 million) who make a purchase at Target. Despite Big W’s well-publicised decline, 18.9% of Australians (3 million people) still shop there per four weeks. Clearly, these retailers are projecting an appealing image to attract so many customers.

CLICK TO VIEW - Image of store: Target, Kmart and Big W compared
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2015-June 2016, n=14,314

One common denominator shared by the three stores is the perception that each ‘has a wide choice of products’. Almost 42% of Australians think Target fits this description, 45.1% feel the same way about Kmart and 49.2% think Big W has a wide choice of products.

Big W and Kmart are also associated with having ‘low prices’ and ‘products that are good value for money’, while Target has the edge over the other two for having ‘good quality products’.

It’s worth noting here that, in the 12 months to June 2016 (the period from which the data in this finding is taken) Target was leading the pack in the Discount Department Store category of Roy Morgan’s Customer Satisfaction Awards – and still is. Retail customer satisfaction is a complex formula, influenced by multiple factors beyond being seen to have low prices.

Myer and David Jones

Compared with the discount players, higher-end retailers Myer and David Jones see fewer shoppers through their doors, with 10.0% of Australians (or 1.6 million people) making a purchase at Myer and 4.7% (760,000) buying something at DJs in an average four weeks. The most commonly held perception of these stores is less about low prices and more about quality, which evidently impacts on customer volume.

Just over four in every 10 Australians believe that both stores have ‘good quality products’, while 34.2% of the population perceives Myer as having ‘a wide choice of products’ (compared with 27.7% who see David Jones in the same way). The proportion who think either store has ‘low prices’, on the other hand, is negligible.

CLICK TO VIEW - Image of store: David Jones and Myer compared
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2015-June 2016, n=14,314

Nearly 22% of Australians feel that Myer’s ‘products cost a little more, but they’re worth it’, a smidgeon more than the 21.3% who think this statement applies to DJs; but Myer is more commonly associated with having ‘a good range of brands’ than the latter (28.3% vs 23.4%).