By Wright Communications -
8 April 2016
New Zealand companies recognise the importance of corporate reputation, but they need to be aware that Kiwis use unique criteria to judge businesses.
The 2016 Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index, published
today by the National Business Review, shows that while corporate
reputation is a global issue, there is a distinct formula for
winning over New Zealand consumers.
The index, developed in partnership with Wright Communications,
is the only one of its kind in New Zealand and features the top
corporates in this country by revenue.
Air New Zealand has maintained its position as the country's
most reputable company, ahead of Toyota, the top-selling car
company in New Zealand.
The survey uses the RepZ model, created by Colmar Brunton's
international parent company, Millward Brown, which measures
companies across four categories - responsibility, fairness,
success and trust. It is adjusted to the preferences of each
country and if you want a good reputation in New Zealand, trust is
the most important factor.
Trust measures not only whether a company can be trusted but
whether it has a positive influence on society and is honest and
ethical in the way it conducts business. In New Zealand this
pillar accounts for 37% of the total, compared to only 16%
However, Kiwis place much less emphasis on fairness (fair
pricing), which makes up only 20% of the index here compared to 32%
They are also less concerned about leadership/success, which
includes being first to market with new products & services and
offering investors a good financial return (27% compared to 35%
Responsibility (treating employees fairly, environmentally
responsible) was in line with the global average.
A lesson from the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index is
that if Kiwi companies want to improve their reputation, they need
to understand the values of New Zealand consumers and incorporate
that into their business strategy and communications.
Air New Zealand already understands this: it scored a whopping
122 points in the trust category, nine points ahead of the next
best company (Toyota, with 113). This helped it overcome a
less stellar fairness score of 105.
The Warehouse had a solid increase in its trust rating from 102
points to 106, lifting it into the top 10 companies overall.
The retailer already performs well in the fairness stakes,
reflecting its reputation for affordable pricing.
Supermarket owner Foodstuffs went in the opposite direction,
tumbling from 11 to outside the top 20.
The survey suggests emphasising honesty and ethics (and
practicing what you preach) is the surest way to rise up the
reputation ranks in New Zealand.
Implementing a comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility
(CSR) programme is one way of achieving this.
Also, while competitive pricing may be important at point of
sale, higher prices don't seem to hurt your company's overall
reputation as much in New Zealand as they might overseas.
This suggests pricing might be better addressed in sales and
marketing rather than communications, where the other three pillars
should be the main areas of focus.
Understanding what Kiwis admire in a company is crucial, with
research from Colmar Brunton showing corporate reputation is
strongly related to sales performance.
Three out of four consumers would buy from companies with a RepZ
score of 105 or more, but fewer than half (46 per cent) would
consider buying from a company with a weak reputation of 95 and
Dr Chris Galloway, Head of Public Relations at Massey
University, says reputation is "neither a fad nor a passing
concern" and some international insurance companies have reported
it as a top worry for executives globally.
"But how do you deal with something that while recognised as a
vital resource, is essentially intangible? You can't manage
reputation (if you can 'manage' it at all) the same way you manage
a production line or a set of physical assets," he says.
In the social media age, reputation is arguably harder to earn
and easier to lose than ever. Reputation is now a risk in and
of itself, rather than a by-product of something else that has gone
wrong for the company.
The risk depends largely on the values of your customers and the
wider society you operate in, and the Colmar Brunton Corporate
Reputation Index gives an unparalleled insight into the Kiwi psyche
when it comes to corporates.