24/7 Wall St.: The Ten Most Hated Companies In America.

18 01 2012

Are you surprised?

24/7 Wall Street’s analysis was based on a rigorous study of two dimensions.  One is public research about consumer satisfaction, customer care, pricing of products and services, and brand impressions. Wall St. research takes into account another set of factors, which include present earnings, profit forecasts, product development and quality, and brand valuations.

Here is how they did their research.

“We examined each company based on several criteria. We considered total return to shareholders in comparison to the broader market and other companies in the same sector during the last year. We reviewed financial analyst opinions on those companies that are public. We analyzed data from a broad array of sources, including Consumer Reports, JD Power, the MSN/Zogby Poll, ForeSee and the University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index. We also considered negative press based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of media coverage and the Flame Index, which uses a proprietary algorithm to review more than 12,000 websites and ranks companies based on the frequency of negative words. Finally, we considered the views of taxpayers, Congress and the White House — where applicable.”

Read the article here.





BrandAsset® Valuator: Fewer trust brands but trust is key to building brand equity.

16 01 2012

Kudos once again to our friend John Gerzema and his team at BrandAsset® Valuator for another compelling report on the key trends related to trust, brands, and the rise of the what they deem “The Citizen Marketplace”.

The headlines from their analysis and research demonstrate two inter-related factors as it relates to trust and brands:

That trust is the true, new brand differentiator.

  • 25% of people surveyed trusted brands in 2009, down from 49% at the beginning of the decade.
  • 45% cite trust as key to future potential or brand strength, up from 29% in 2001.

Other key findings in the research is the rise in social media as social contract with trust of social media outlets outpacing that of traditional media (and Twitter leading the trust game among social media outlets).

John and his BAV team conclude the following branding imperatives in the era of the Citizen Marketplace.

  • Trust is the new differentiator
  • There are numerous pathways to trust for companies and brands to pursue based on category requirements and their purpose and values
  • As communications evolve into conversations, social media is moving past social currency to social contract
  • Companies must not think social media, but ‘social as business model’.

Download a BAV presentation on the research here.

Thanks again BAV team for sharing this insightful work.





The Enlightened Trend: Shared Value vs. Shareholder Value.

1 12 2011

93% of CEOs believe sustainability issues will be key to business success in the future.  The concept of creating shared value vs. shareholder value is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of many corporate boardrooms. This new report from FSG – the nonprofit consulting firm – gives best in class examples of social engagement strategies where corporate and social issues are aligned.

According to FSG, “the most advanced companies have begun to look at social engagement through a different lens entirely.  Rather than seeing business and society in opposition, they recognize the enormous potential of business to contribute to social progress.  At the same time, they understand that firms depend on healthy and well-functioning societies to thrive.  Such companies seek to create “shared value” – incorporating social issues into their core business strategies to benefit both society and their own long-term competitiveness.”

Says Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, “What’s happening now is really a redefinition of the boundaries of capitalism.  Creating shared value is the next stage of evolution in the sophistication of the capitalist model.”

The report was sponsored by HP and features examples from global business leaders committed to creating shared value, including Alcoa, GE, Cisco, and Nestle among others.

You can download a pdf of the report here.

(Figure from FSG)





Havas Media: Only 20% of global brands contribute to a sense of wellbeing and quality of life.

8 11 2011

In releasing their latest results, Havas Media underscores how few brands are contributing meaningful experiences to people – with most people saying they would not care if 70% of brands ceased to exist.

In a press release, Sara de Dios, Global Head of Meaningful Brands at Havas Media said.  “We believe that it is likely that the next generation of brands will flourish in emerging economies – they can, from the onset, create the context that promotes the growth of meaningful brands. Companies and brands operating in emerging economies can become active in transforming their roles; they are creating new lifestyles for millions of people and their communities while contributing to the overall progress of their societies. This will continue in the future with a growing middle class emerging within these markets.”

This innovative global undertaking is able, for the first time, to connect brands with our quality of life and wellbeing. It does this by measuring the perceived impact of brands on our personal wellbeing – their influence on factors such as our health, fitness, happiness, values, social relationships, financial security, lifestyles and habits – and our collective wellbeing, that is, how brands help to improve communities, societies and the environment.

The analysis includes a measurement called The Meaningful Brand Index (MBi) that uses consumer perception to compare and track the impact brands have on our lives. Based on the views of 50,000 people in 14 countries, the results show a direct relationship between a brand’s MBi score and the level of consumer attachment. That is, the greater the contribution the brand has to our wellbeing – measured by the value it creates for individuals, communities and the environment – the larger role it will have in people’s lives and the more meaningful it becomes.

Meaningful Brand Index results:

Ikea, Google, Nestlé, Danone, Leroy Merlin, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Unilever and Bimbo are the top 10 global brands. These brands systematically improve our personal and collective wellbeing and are rewarded by stronger brand equity and attachment. Furthermore, the results show that we really care that these brands exist as we see that they are making a significant contribution to our lives and communities. Havas Media argues that many of the top 20 brands are helping us create a new lifestyle that’s more consistent with today’s challenges and consumer trends.

Top 20 global brands according to Havas Media’s Meaningful Brand Index:

  1. Ikea
  2. Google
  3. Nestlé
  4. Danone
  5. Leroy Merlin
  6. Samsung
  7. Microsoft
  8. Sony
  9. Unilever
  10. Bimbo
  11. LG
  12. Philips
  13. Apple
  14. P&G
  15. Mars
  16. Volkswagen
  17. L’Oreal
  18. Wal-Mart
  19. Carrefour
  20. Coca-Cola

Detailed analysis on what makes each brand meaningful

Meaningful Brands also explains what makes things meaningful to us as consumers when it comes to specific brands and sectors. For instance, 65% registered a very strong attachment to Coca-Cola worldwide. However, only 35% think the brand improves our quality of life. In fact, some consumers worldwide think it is contributing negatively to our lives, mostly due to health concerns. However, Coca-Cola has, as with many other brands in the beverage sector, been a pioneer in connecting its brand to other personal issues such as happiness and positivity which has enabled it to successfully build a positive link to our emotional wellbeing.

Sector trends

When looking into brands’ impact on our sense of collective wellbeing (communities/ societies/environment), there is a general improvement. This is the case with the automotive and public transport sectors, driven by greater environmental and product innovation (such as the hybrid and electric cars and energy efficiency). Compared to last year, brands such as Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota and Peugeot have, according to consumers, improved the most in this area.

Personal and individual wellbeing

When it comes to our expectations of improving our personal wellbeing and quality of life, the results are not so good. A staggering 80% of brands across 14 countries are underperforming. This reveals a huge opportunity for brands. To some extent this is being realised by brands in sectors such as FMCG, retail, IT and consumer electronics. According to consumers, most brands in the financial, utilities and telecommunications sectors, underperform in helping us improve our daily lives and individual wellbeing.

Despite these trends, the analysis shows that some brands have been able to break free from these industry limitations. There are brands with exceptionally high MBi scores in low scoring industries that are learning to reconnect with consumers. This is the case for Fidelity Investments in the USA, the energy brand Petrobras in Brazil, EDF in France and the telco brands 02 in the UK and Free in France. All of these register significantly higher than average MBi scores for both their sectors and countries.

Worldwide and regional comparisons:

The analysis suggests that the next generation of brands will come from emerging economies. People in fast growing economies, such as Asian and Latin American markets, record a stronger and healthier relationship with brands. The proportion of brands making a notable positive contribution to our lives increases to around 30% in Latin America, compared to 8% in European markets, where people tend to be more sceptical and less engaged with brands. In the US it’s 5%.

By contrast, the situation in developed economies is the opposite. Brands in these regions are no longer seen to improve people’s quality of life. There is an aging and increasingly poorer middle class who are demanding that brands help them to lead and create new lifestyles that fit in to their new expectations and values. In order to survive, these brands must re evaluate their definitions of success and take up the challenge to make meaningful contributions to these people’s lives.”

Hernan Sanchez Neira, CEO Havas Media Intelligence, adds:
“It’s clear from our analysis that we need to take a new look at the relationship between brands and consumers. Nowadays we want so much more from brands than just promises or stories. Brands that manage to create better relationships dominate the marketplace.”

Meaningful Brands helps us to develop this type of relationship by understanding exactly what people expect from brands. It also helps us track how successful companies are responding to these needs by understanding how these companies are contributing to our wellbeing, both as citizens and individuals, and how they communicate these values to us. It also shows us that there’s a big business opportunity for brands who are able to satisfy consumers by creating wellbeing in the context of their new values, expectations and local market realities.”

Consumer sentiment continues to shift:

  • For the 4th year running consumer expectations of companies’ responsible behaviour continues to rise
  • Nearly 85% of consumers worldwide expect companies to become actively involved in solving these issues (an increase of 15% from 2010)
  • Those prepared to reward responsible companies by choosing to buy their products is up 11% from last year to more than half of all consumers (51%)
  • Those who would pay a 10% premium for a product produced in a responsible way is up once again – from 44% last year to 53% in 2011
  • The percentage of us who would punish irresponsible companies has also increased to 44% (from 36% in 2010)
  • Only 28% of consumers worldwide think that companies today are working hard enough to solve our social and environmental challenges.
  • Only 20% trust companies when they communicate about their social/environmental commitments and initiatives

About the research:

The research was carried out from March to June 2011 across 14 markets – France, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, Japan and India. The research took into account the views of 50,000 consumers via online panels.

About Havas Media

Havas Media is the global media network of Havas.

Havas Media represents one of the world’s fastest growing media networks and its agencies have grown from 10 markets in 1999 to 119 markets in 2011.

Havas Media services its clients through a portfolio of specialist global networks and agencies. The group is organised to maximise local market dynamics whilst leveraging the extensive global insight and strategic support within Havas Media. The range of companies within Havas Media include: MPG (Havas Media’s global media network), Arena Media (Havas Media’s network for tailor-made communication services), Havas Digital (Havas Media’s global interactive network) and Havas Sports & Entertainment (Havas Media’s global sports and entertainment communication network).

Further information can be found at www.havasmedia.com or follow us on twitter @HavasMedia





Global Opportunity: Tell It How It Is – according to Cone Echo Research

18 10 2011

In its newly released global research report, Cone Echo Research highlight the opportunity for business to build a stronger relationship with consumers by meeting their expectations that business will address social and environmental issues through their operations, their products and services and their unique expertise.  

The trend is global as evidenced by the results in ten countries and the 10,000 people who were surveyed.  And not surprisingly, communication is critical in bridging the gap between perception and reality.

  • 93% of consumers say they want to know what companies are doing.
  • 91% of people say they want to be heard as well.

This means that reciprocal communication is more than an expectation, its essential in building a strong connection with consumers.  And critical to overcoming the confusion, skepticism and even cynicism among consumers.  

  • 89% of consumers globally believe companies share only the positive information about their efforts, while withholding the negative.
  • 71% are confused by the messages companies use to talk about their efforts and impacts.
  • 61% of consumers believe a company is telling the truth about its social and environmental efforts and impacts, but this varies widely by nationality.

Trust is more complex.

The more trusting a country’s consumers are in business, the more confused they are by a company’s messages. These consumers are putting great faith in the words of business, even though they don’t necessarily understand the messages themselves. In return, they don’t ask for perfection, simply the truth. Nearly nine-in-10 (88%) say it’s ok if a company is not perfect, as long as it is honest about its efforts. This permission presents an opportunity for companies to speak candidly about tough CR issues to build trust.

Follow this link to access the Global CR Study





American People to Corporate America: We’d Vote You Out.

30 12 2010

In a new survey issued by StrategyOne, 82% of American’s gave a “C grade or lower” on how corporate America did in 2010, with 40% of Americans assigning Corporate America a “D” or an “F”.

The wake up call is that Americans are extremely frustrated and dissatisfied with the behavior of companies in America.  Quite literally, if the leadership of American companies were politicians, there would be a landslide election of the American people voting them out of their corner offices.

“Let’s be clear, Americans are not dreaming up some far out vision of utopia,” said said Bradley Honan, senior vice president of StrategyOne. “Instead they are being realistic that Corporate America should – and indeed must – engage in important issues of the day where they can make a demonstrably positive difference.  That means the economy and jobs for starters, but also ensuring their products are safe and not harmful to use, and that they simply conduct their day to day business activities in an honest, ethical, and transparent manner.”

Other interesting facts undercovered in the StrategyOne survey included:

  • 88% of consumers said it was extremely or very important that companies help get the economy back on track in 2011.
  • 88% said it was extremely or very important to conduct business in an ethical manner in 2011, and 87% said it was a top priority to do business in an honest and moral way.
  • 85% of consumers thought it was extremely or very important for companies in 2011 to deliver high quality products and services;
  • 84% of Americans thought companies needed to demonstrate good governance in 2011.
  • 82% said it was a top priority for companies to make fewer mistakes and errors in 2011.

Let’s hope company leaders make some serious New Year’s resolutions to improve their performance and more effectively communicate with the public to show how they are being more responsbile, sustainable and ethical.  That is the only way to reduce the “trust gap”.  And it is important for corporate leaders to recognize—once and for all—that their futures are dependent on their customers….who happen to be the American people, at the end of the day.

StrategyOne Survey Methodology:

StrategyOne conducted 1,081 online interviews among a representative sampling of Americans between December 6 and 8, 2010.





Sustainability Making Business Smarter, More Competitive and More Profitable.

16 12 2010

A new report commissioned by KPMG and The Economist Intelligence Group shows that global corporate business executives are seeing positive—and potentially surprising – business benefits from their sustainability initiatives.  More than half of those surveyed represented C-Suite executives.  This week’s report is a preview of a major research paper coming from KPMG early next year.

  • 62% of company’s now claim to have a strategy for sustainability, up from just over half in early 2008.
  • 44% of business executives believe that sustainability is and will continue to be a source of innovation.
  • 39% of executives see sustainability as a source of revenue growth.
  • 41% see sustainability as a driver for brand enhancement.

Some of the other benefits cited by executives from sustainability initiatives include happier employees, better relationships with clients and suppliers, cost reduction, access to new markets, new product and service offerings and improved investor awareness.

But once again there is a gap between reality and perception, with many companies still not effectively communicating sustainability progress to investors and other stakeholders.

And the vast majority of survey respondants claim they viewed sustainability reporting as “just PR.”

It is time for business to back up their actions with transparent and authentic communication to translate their efforts into positive external perceptions and brand reputation enhancement.  The communication challenge is to be  real, believable, trusted and for the messages to be served up in digestible, understandable and emotionally inspiring ways.  And that friends, is the essence of great branding and the huge opportunity: creating responsible brands that prosper in the new age of sustainability.

Download the KMPG Research Report Preview Here