Trust in retail brands slumps to four-year low

Tesco is among the five least trusted retail brands in the UK for the first time after emerging as one of the biggest causalities from the hosemeat and tax avoidance scandals that dragged overall trust in the sector to a four year low in 2013, according to a study.

Trust in the UK retail sector slumped to a four year low, reveals a study.

The supermarket was rated poorly on measures including price, range and value for money according to a study of over 10,000 shoppers by consultancy firm OC&C, as ongoing perception issues around the sector pulled trust down by more than 1 point over the last year to 70.8 – the lowest since 2009.

Despite the decline, John Lewis retained its crown as the country’s most trusted retailer with 96 per cent of respondents revealing its popularity had not wavered. Marks & Spencer, which has spent the last year trying to revive its flagging womenwear range, also bucked the trend of consumer scepticism on trust, ranking second in the list of the UK’s most most trusted retailers (See table).  

Discount chains such as Aldi were the only brands within the retail industry to see trust grow. Aldi as well its rivals’ greater focus on marketing the price and quality of its products helped increase average trust scores by around 1.3 points over the period.  

Tom Gladstone, partner at OC&C says, the equity brand’s such as John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Waterstones have built up over the years has helped dampen the effect of the ongoing negative perception issues dogging the retail industry.

He adds: “Trust plays a critical role for consumers’ overall perception of a retail brand so it’s worrying that trust in retailers has hit a four-year low. The report shows that a focus on CSR or ethical trading alone is not enough to convince UK consumers that a brand is trustworthy – rather, delivery on promise and quality remain prerequisites to winning consumer trust.”

Elsewhere, furniture and entertainment retailers suffered the sharpest drop, losing 3.1 and  3.4 points respectively. Amazon, despite its role in the tax avoidance scandal, was crowned the UK’s favourite retailer for the fourth year running thanks to its shopping experience and quality. It was followed by John Lewis and Apple (see table).  

Gladstone adds: “Although the tax avoidance scandal negatively affected UK consumers’ trust in Amazon, their execution and reliability around products and delivery helped them maintain their overall title. The US retailer continues to excel in areas which consumers value highly, such as excellent customer service, a wide choice and great value for money.”

OC&C Retail Proposition Index:

Top-10 overall UK retailers

  1. Amazon
  2. John Lewis
  3. Apple
  4. Marks & Spencer
  5. M&S Simply Food
  6. eBay
  7. Lakeland
  8. Ikea
  9. Waterstones
  10. Healthspan

Top-5 most trusted retailers

  1. John Lewis
  2. Marks & Spencer
  3. Waterstones
  4. M&S Simply Food
  5. Lakeland


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