Increased access to company information and the immediacy of social media means the integrity and trust of an organisation in the eyes of consumers, the general public and other stakeholders is under the microscope on a daily basis. As it is, nearly two thirds of consumers who are active on the internet will search for news about companies they are interested in and seek information relating to other people’s brand experiences
With this level of scrutiny, reputation management is crucial to any corporate bottom line.
To help companies better understand how to manage corporate reputation, Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants introduced its Africa Reputation Index (ARI) in April 2017.
The richness and true value of this data shines through after South Africans from all walks of life were interviewed and surveyed across 16 focus groups. Based on this qualitative research, 44 reputational drivers were identified and grouped into nine overarching reputational attributes that shed light on how consumers experience corporate reputation.
The depth of the data is unique, providing users with insights that are invaluable to being able to make strategic decisions in the future based on the perceptions of their reputation among stakeholders today. Once the reputational drivers were identified, Magna Carta was able to create a survey that would rank the drivers, as well as evaluate the performance of companies from 5 different sectors. The final consumer sample included 1304 South Africans located in cities across South Africa. An additional 200 business decision makers were surveyed.
Kalay Maistry, Business Unit Head at Magna Carta said: “Interestingly no company performed well on the majority of the top 10 drivers across any of the industries that were measured. If corporates were to focus their efforts on the key drivers of reputation, the perception of reputation would improve for each brand, as well as the likelihood of consumers recommending the company’s products and services”.
The survey tells us that South African consumers want more from companies across sectors. The important reputation drivers are generally areas that competitors are also not known for, which suggests that with a good strategic plan there is an opportunity for companies to differentiate from their competitors.
Katherine du Plessis, Data Analyst at Magna Carta noted that corporate reputation in South Africa is so important that over 90% of consumers will select a company with a good reputation over a competitor and 80% will avoid a company with a bad reputation. Evaluating and managing reputation will not only provide a competitive advantage, but it vital to a company’s longevity.
Nine Reputational Attributes
Through its ARI, Magna Carta aims to help companies build a better corporate reputation in the areas that truly matter to consumers. These areas are:
- Quality. Quality relates to products or services that are reliable and durable. It extends to the quality of suppliers that a company uses and the value equation – that is that products are worth the cost. The ultimate expression of quality is recommendation. Quality was rated most important in general by the consumer group and is the top reputational attribute for car manufacturers.
- Customer Service. Customer service includes staff that are well trained, and available and responsive to clients and customers. Clients want to deal with staff members that are welcoming and approachable. The efficient delivery of products and services, and keeping a high standard are also elements of this attribute. Customer service was the top reputational attribute in food retail and financial services, and second in the other three industries – telecommunications, car manufacturers and public services.
- Good Governance. This is the most important reputational attribute in the telecommunication sector. Good governance focuses on leadership. This includes aspects of strategic planning and maintaining a core focus. Transformation also comes into this attribute.
- Good Working Environment. Employees are ambassadors of their companies. A company that is an ‘employer of choice’ will invest in developing staff skills and, as such, will attract the best staff. This is the top reputational attribute in the public services sector where consumers expect staff competence and efficiency.
- Integrity. Integrity relates to keeping promises and being accountable and respectable. Compliance and following regulations are important as well as ensuring that words and actions are the same.
- Innovation. Innovation encompasses the use of technology and keeping up with the times. It speaks to a company’s ability to be adaptable and agile as well as being current and relevant. Innovation is synonymous with embracing technology to provide new and more consumer centric products and keeping up with changing needs relating to service delivery.
- History. History is defined as having a good track record, being around for a long time and having a legacy. A reputation to consumers comes with knowing what they can expect from you. This consistency further amplifies word of mouth recommendations.
- Visibility. Companies that are visible have many stores that are accessible. Visibility also includes advertising and being relatable. For lower income consumers, a company that you can’t see is less trustworthy. Good marketing is seen as an indication of a business doing well. For high income consumers, open communication is the driver of trust – they do not want to be taken for a ride.
- CSI. Corporate social responsibility is community focused and includes giving back to and developing communities. Being environmentally responsible and being known for CSI initiatives are also important. Interestingly, CSI was rated as least important by the consumers, possibly because the public is often unaware of the CSI initiatives that a company is involved in. Despite its lower overall ranking, CSI was highlighted by more than half of the focus groups, and is most important with middle income consumers.
More details and findings from the Africa Reputation Index can be found at www.magna-carta.co.za/ari
As a seasoned African reputation management consultancy, with a presence in 18 countries, Magna Carta offers a range of services and products to safeguard and build reputation, allow us to provide you with a customised report, based on the findings of the Africa Reputation Index.
In our ongoing effort to provide clients with innovation solution, Magna Carta will over time extend the Africa Reputation Index to cover other countries in Africa.
About Magna Carta’s Africa Reputation Index
Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants, in collaboration with Yellowwood, a leading marketing strategy consultancy, developed a Reputation Index with the aim of measuring corporate reputation in the African context. Data was collated using a robust research study from a sample of 1 304 South Africans. Respondents were asked to select an industry, identify different companies in the industry, and then rate the companies on a series of 44 reputational drivers that had been identified from the focus groups and in-depth Interviews.
About Magna Carta
Magna Carta is a seasoned African consultancy that thinks globally and delivers full reputation management solutions to organisations and individuals that take their reputations seriously. We have affiliates in 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and are part of the Omnicom group which has 265 offices in 100 countries. We have also been named African Consultancy of the Year 2016 by The Holmes Report.
Founded in 1994, the year of South Africa’s democracy, Magna Carta understands the value of freedom and liberty for all people as well as the responsibility that comes with that freedom, and has since grown into one of Africa’s largest and most respected reputational management consultancies.