Brand Purpose Marketing

78% of Britons think business is key to a thriving society, but less than a third feel optimistic about the future


By Michael Feeley, Founder and chief exec

March 27, 2019 | 3 min read

Almost four out of five Britons (78%) consider that business has a crucial role to play in building a successful society, according to research findings released by marketing and communications agency Radley Yeldar (RY).

RY’s 2019 ‘Belief in business: state of the nation’ research also found that nearly half of the population (45%) feels that things are going in the wrong direction in the UK with fewer than a third (29%) feeling optimistic about the years ahead.

The research revealed that while small and medium-sized businesses are better able to capture the public’s confidence (69% and 81% respectively), large companies are struggling.

Cynicism in publicly-listed companies is particularly high, with less than two-fifths (39%) believing in them. And the risks for businesses who don’t manage to capture this support is huge:

  • Three in five Britons (59%) say that they’ll stop using a business they don’t believe in;
  • Nearly half (46%) wouldn’t work for them – a significant challenge given the current almost ubiquitous war for talent;
  • Perhaps even more troubling for some companies, two-fifths (40%) say that they will not invest in them or will even take their money elsewhere.

Certain behaviours are simply not tolerated. Britons’ belief in business is shaken by those who don’t pay taxes (56%), don’t pay the living wage (56%), don’t respect their people (56%) and fail to communicate openly with customers, employees and stakeholders (51%). Not caring about the impact on society (49%) or the environment (47%) will also make half of the public turn away from organisations.

Carl Radley, chairman and founder of RY, said: “Events of the last few years have shaken our confidence in the future. But with the right behaviours, companies can kickstart and revitalise the public’s belief in them, which is crucial to their longevity. Evidence times inspiration is the new formula for success in a changing world.

“This report confirms that the onus is on business to create the world we all want to live in. The belief triggers are a good place to start.”

The research was conducted 27 February – 5 March 2019 among 1,164 adults aged 18 and above in the UK via an online survey. The report forms the first part of RY’s ‘Belief in business’ campaign, with further research results to be released in coming months.

RY operates office in London and Birmingham.

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