Executives are customers too. So, why the perception gap on what influences brand, reputation and trust?


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Creative Commons License photo credit: hunter.gatherer

A few days ago across at Marketing Pilgrim, Cynthia Boris wrote 70 Percent of Consumers Won’t Buy from a Company They Don’t Like.

The source of the statement was from a new report from Weber Shandwick, a global PR agency, called “The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.”

According to Weber Shandwick:

“The research was conducted in October and November 2011 among 1,375 consumers (ages 18+) and 575 senior executives in companies with revenue of $500 million or more. Respondents were located in four key markets: two developed markets (the U.S. and U.K.) and two emerging markets (China and Brazil).”

Now, there are some interesting findings in this report about what drives reputation and these are applicable to both large and small companies. It is worth checking out.

weber shandwick

However, if you dig into the report there are a couple of charts in there that made me think (What influences consumer perceptions about companies? on p.17 and What influences company reputation, according to executives? on p.20). If you want to see the whole report and check out what I am talking about the click on “The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.”

The reason I found it interesting was that these two questions reminded me of a piece of research that RightNow Technologies conducted back in 2005 (The Loyalty Connection: Secrets To Customer Retention) that included some insights on the difference in perception between an executives view of the world and a customers view of the world and the reasons that customers leave.

Back to the Weber Shandwick research. If you take their data and stand it side by side then you get the following chart:

What Influences Reputation Weber Shandwick

What did you notice?

For me, there are a few things that stand out:

  1. Executives placed more importance on every identified source of influence than customers.
  2. Executives place way too much importance compared to their customers on Company leader communications, Awards and rankings and advertising as influencers of their reputation. The first and, perhaps part of, the second I can understand from a market and shareholder perspective if you are a traded company. However, what it shows is that there are still many businesses and in business that are following and believing a ‘broadcast’ model of marketing and doing business.
  3. Whilst customers are coming to trust social networks increasingly, according to Edelman – another PR agency, executives seem to believing a lot of the hype that exists around social networks and are over stating their influence.

No wonder corporate executives are running around worrying about everything all of the time. Maybe they are worrying about a few too many things too much.

But, the thing that worries me the most is the perception gap that seems to exist. Why is that? Surely, executives are customers too. So, why is there a perception gap between the two groups on what influences brand, reputation and trust?

We are living in a changing world and are striving to build more customer centric businesses, get closer to our customers and better understand them. Seems like many still have some way to go.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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