Picture this. You’re at a Gourmerican burger joint chomping a cheeseburger, when an outspoken vegan friend starts preaching that you’re killing the planet. Last week, that same vegan downed a pricey glass of pinot before their flight to a far-flung destination, armed with their strongest mossie repellant and first aid kit. Anything amiss?
As traditional retailers continue adapting to a digitally-heavy, highly competitive customer space, a recent report shows which companies are now strongest in reputation and trust in the eyes of Aussie customers.
Released this week, results of the 2016 Corporate Reputation Index released by the AMR in conjunction with the Reputation Institute, ranked the 60 participating Australian companies by collating insight direct from consumers, without relying on any information provided by the companies studied.
In addition to collating overall reputation, the Reputation Index also measured how Australians feel about each of the 60 companies according to products and services, innovation, workplace, citizenship, governance, leadership and performance. Australian adults aged 18-64 were surveyed, with results weighted to ensure they represented appropriate gender and age groups.
Who topped the charts as the most trusted retailer
Topping the index was JB Hi-Fi, climbing two places from 2015. It is the second time in three years it has taken line honours in the Index, previously ranking first in 2014 and was third overall last year.
The retailer ousted Toyota, which ranked 1st in 2015, Samsung and Qantas respectively to rank highest for its reputation. Harvey Norman also saw an improvement increasing from a 26 ranking last year to rank 20 overall this year. But not all retailers showed similar improvement this year, with one of JB Hi-Fi’s competitors, The Good Guys, slipping from a 6 ranking in 2014, to a 12 ranking in 2015 and now down again to 16 this year. Meanwhile Myer’s reputation remained static ranking of 21 overall for the second year running.
AMR’s managing director, Oliver Freedman, said the research showed that Australian consumers not only rated JB Hi-Fi’s products and services highly, but felt it was a good corporate citizen that treated its employees well.
“This research shows that respect for an organisation is developed well beyond the perception of getting a good deal in a retail environment,” he said. “Being a responsibly-run company that is open and transparent, and treats its employees well is also vitally important to Australians when it comes to overall reputation.”
Freedman highlighted one of the companies who has worked hard in recent years to gain a growing trust in consumers has been Qantas, which jumped five places to fourth place this year.
“Qantas has clearly worked hard to regain trust following its shut-down and other industrial issues which saw the carrier face what we call a ‘reputational crisis’.,” he explained. “However, it has clearly taken successful measures to rebuild that reputation among Australians, who not only trust and admire the organisation, but have also recognised improvements in the individual dimensions of innovation, governance, leadership and performance.”
Which companies slipped down the ranks
Woolworths showed the biggest fall in overall reputation in this year’s Index, down from a 17 ranking in 2015 to a 40 ranking in 2016. According to Freedman, the drop could be attributed to public awareness of financial issues, including the future of the Masters brand, teamed with ongoing public discussion about whether it was losing the battle against Coles and Aldi.
“Woolworths has really struggled in the individual measurements of Leadership and Financial Performance in particular this year,” he said. “In the past its overall financial performance helped maintain a strong reputation. But once this started to decline, there was not enough reputational capital to avoid a very large loss of trust among the Australian public.”
Another organisation to slip significantly in overall rankings this year was Australia Post, falling from a ranking of 6 to 19, Freedman noted.
“Australia Post is facing some serious issues with its reputation,” he said. “In particular, our research shows they now rank very poorly in the specific areas of leadership, financial performance and products, where just three years ago they ranked well in those areas.
“The community gave them a substantial amount of time to future proof the business, show clear evidence of their innovation and vision, but the reputational capital Australia Post built over many years now appears to have diminished, and the increase of stamps to $1 appears to have been a tipping point among some consumers polled.”