People's trust in brands faces biggest dip since the 2008 financial crash

Despite a glossy UK campaign from BBH Uber took a big reputational hit among consumers this year

In the UK, brands are facing their biggest trust crisis since the global recession hit in 2008, according to fresh research from the Reputation Institute – with advertisers like Delta Airlines, Uber and Ryanair taking the biggest reputational hits over the past 12 months.

The Reputation Institute’s RepTrak report, ​which is made up of around 31,000 individual ratings and over 293 nominated companies, has found that the reputation of firms operating in the country has declined for the first time in 10 years.

Trust in brands to ‘do the right thing’ dipped by 10% in 2017, while the likelihood of a consumer giving a brand ‘the benefit of the doubt’ has decreased by 13% in the past 12 months.

When it comes to recommending brands, just 38% of consumers said they were prone to do so in 2017, a decrease of 7% on 2016’s number. The amount of consumers willing to buy a brand decreased by the same proportion.

There was also an 11% decline in the number of consumers prepared to say positive things about advertisers.

What the Rep Institute terms as ‘brand expressiveness’ – ie how consumers perceive brands communicate to them – has also experienced a notable decline across every metric over the past year.

Just 34% of shoppers said they thought brands were succeeding in ‘standing out from the crowd’ in 2017, a decrease of 12% on the previous year.

The numbers also indicated that a proclivity towards purpose isn’t necessarily reaping rewards for brands with just 36% of consumers saying they thought brands were genuine about what they claimed to stand for in their marketing; a 12% decrease on last year.

Top and hardest hit brands

As part of the research, people were asked to score companies on a scale of 0 – 100 based on their perception of the brand.

The top advertiser in the rankings was Swiss luxury watch firm Rolex, with toy giant Lego coming a close second despite seeing a dip in sales last year. Bosch came in at number three, followed by Dyson which was the top UK brand in the rankings. Completing the top five was Nintendo.

In terms of the biggest movers on the list, Delta Airline’s global computer outage clearly impacted its 2017 performance as it took the biggest reputational hit with a decline of -11.4.

The brand was closely followed by Uber at -11.2, which despite a glossy UK campaign from BBH had quite the year in 2017. The headlines started with a scathing memo exposing a toxic workplace where sexual harassment and discrimination was openly ignored (leading to the abrupt exit of the chief executive along with several other executives) and ended with the attempted coverup of a massive data breach affecting over 50 million users.

Budget Airline RyanAir had the third hardest impacted reputation this year with a decrease of (-10.6).

On the flip side, French cosmetics behemoth L’Oreal saw the biggest improvement to its reputation thanks to a bump of +10.9 points, ahead of Alton Towers owner Merlin Entertainment (+9.7) and Nintendo (+8.6).

Amazon also reaped the rewards of taking a more tongue-in-cheek approach its advertising and better solidifying its brand with an increase of +8.3 points.

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