The annual Global RepTrack 100 UK study by the Reputation Institute found that 53 per cent of the 135 companies in the ranking saw their reputation grow last year, with brand including Findus and Brakes among the biggest improvers. Some 43 per cent of companies now have an above average ranking, up from less than a third (32 per cent) a year ago.
John Lewis topped the list this year with a score of 87.68, up from fourth place last year following a “buoyant year” in which it has kicked off celebrations for its 150th anniversary. It was one of five retailers in the top 10, including Sainsbury’s, which increased its score by more than 8 points, Dunelm and House of Fraser.
Notable by its absence was Marks & Spencer, which having topped the ranking in 2013 slid down to 15th position this year. In comparison, Royal Mail had a good year, jumping 22 places to make it into the top 10 after successfully managing its reputation through a “challenging period” as it went public.
Supermarkets including Asda, Iceland and Tesco that saw their brands hit by the horsemeat scandal also saw an improvement in their reputation, as did the discounters Aldi and Lidl.
Spencer Fox, managing director of Reputation Institute, says: “The horsemeat scandal had a horrific effect on the entire food industry last year and we are beginning to see a mend in relationships with consumers. The big four may still be losing market share to the discounters but each one – with the exception of Morrisons – has seen a rise in their reputation score.”
The study also found that CSR is becoming increasingly important as the economy recovers, accounting for 44.3 per cent of a company’s reputation, up from 43.6 per cent a year ago. While the products and services that companies sell remain the single most important part of a business’s reputation, consumers are increasingly looking at how companies perform on wider issues.
Fox says that with less pressure on their purses consumers are increasingly interested in the brand behind the products and what it stands for. He adds that talking to customers about CSR can help boost behaviour such as whether someone would recommend a brand, say something positive about a company or welcome it to the community.
He adds: “A brighter UK economy means the balance has shifted: more than ever it is about who you are; not just what you sell.”
The report measures corporate reputation among the public, surveying 18,000 UK consumers. It asks questions including if they would buy a product, say something positive about or recommend a product and trust a brand to do the right thing.