How Does Reputation Help a Company be More Competitive?

BY Kathy Crosett
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How does reputation help a company be more competitive? Quite simply, it boils down to this: Your client's reputation determines how much both current and potential customers feel they can trust the company.

Reputations of corporate America took a big hit last year. This news comes to us from the RepTrak Company. Between last year and this year, the percentage of consumers who trust top companies to do the right thing fell from 74.9% to 74.2%. Your clients may not be Fortune 500 companies, but the research holds important clues about people's feelings when it comes to businesses. And, these feelings impact the bottom line.

How Does Reputation Help a Company be More Competitive?

Researchers asked consumers specific questions about company perceptions and found declines in the following categories. Note that the change from the previous survey appears in parentheses:

  • Products and services 75.9 (-.2%)
  • Innovation 72% (-.5%)
  • Workplace 68.4% (-1.2%) — Speaks to whether employees are treated fairly and have equal opportunity
  • Conduct 69.7% (-0.6%) — When companies "stand for a purpose that reflects their values and beliefs"
  • Citizenship 68.7% (-.8%) — Are the companies environmentally friendly?
  • Leadership 73.4% (-0.5%) — Are leaders and managers of high quality and effective?
  • Performance 75.2% (-.2%) — Do the companies operate at a profit? Are they growing?

Consumers report that they value top products and services most when considering a brand’s reputation. They also want companies to demonstrate decent governance. Often, it’s the CEO or business owner who is the face of the company. When that individual doesn’t appear to be forthcoming, the company's reputation as a whole suffers. The percentages in the list above that are only in the sixties should be a warning sign for owners and leads to clean up their act.

In addition, consumers like brands that share the values they aspire to reflect. When there is a mismatch, the brands are at risk. In the past, 36% of surveyed consumers have "felt betrayed by what a company stands for." This problem leads to predictable results; "47% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company as a result."

The Power of Content

Consumers consider a variety of sources when they evaluate companies. Their direct experience, such as buying a product in the physical store, counts heavily. But content may be what makes consumers aware of a company or brand. Researchers point out that "content adds a texture and humanity to a brand, while also garnering valuable marketing attention." Consumers are also paying attention to all media channels: owned, paid and earned. Your clients must work hard consistently in all of these areas to win and keep consumer confidence and their business.

Your clients should also know that, by generation, Gen Z consumers have lost the most confidence in the Top 100. These consumers are more likely to be influenced by digital and social media than older consumers but what really matters to them are matters of ESG (environmental, social and governance.) Businesses will no longer be able to ignore this aspect of their operations if they want to win Gen Z loyalty.

Helping Your Clients Manage Their Reputations

While this study focused on large companies, smaller businesses could be feeling the reputation hit, too. A good reputation will give your client a leg up on bigger companies that haven't been paying enough attention to what consumers think and say about them. For more insight into how well your prospect's digital reputation aligns with the sites most frequently used by its target audience, check out the Digital Audit available on AdMall from Salesfuel. Then, talk with your prospect about how your services can help to improve their reputation.