Grocery retailers made a strong showing in the Authentic brands report, with Sainsbury, Asda, Waitrose, the Cooperative Group and Morrisons also featuring. Results were based on an online study consisting of 12,000 respondents across 12 countries.
Significantly, the study was conducted in July, two months before Tesco made its shock revelation that it had overstated half-year profit by £263M. Tesco came second in the UK table.
How much the result would have differed had the research been conducted later would be hard to say, but commenting on the responses, Andrew Escott, Cohn and Wolfe corporate affairs md, said: “What it shows is that Tesco has built a solid foundation of consumer trust that they can still use to protect their business, but they will need to act quickly and transparently.”
Sainsbury nailed fourth place, Asda fifth, Waitrose sixth, the Co-operative Group eighth and Morrisons just making the list in tenth position.
Poor food safety and hygiene was the issue most likely to incite anger among global and UK consumers, according to the research. With the horsemeat scandal and out-of-date beef scare in Asia fresh in many minds, more than three quarters (77%) of consumers said revelations about unsanitary food processes would make them extremely angry.
Concern about this was even higher in the UK, with 84% of shoppers claiming it would provoke their ire.
The report claimed nearly nine in 10 global consumers (87%) reported that it was important to them for businesses to act with integrity at all times. They felt it was more important than striving to innovate or bringing novel products to market.
In addition, 63% of respondents said they would prefer to buy from an authentic brand over and above competitors. That figure was close to the 61% response in the UK, although a greater proportion of consumers in Sweden, Germany and the US made the same claim.
The retail sector was rated as the most authentic with more than two in five (42%) of consumers thinking retailers were good at displaying authentic behaviours.
At the other end of the scale, one in five or fewer consumers thought the energy, fast-food and banking sectors, respectively, were good at displaying authentic behaviours.
The study further reveals that the UK consumer market is one of the most demanding in the world. ‘Not letting customers down’ was the most important business behaviour for Brits, with 95% of those surveyed agreeing – the highest proportion across all 12 markets in the study.
“As more and more corporate scandals come to light, consumer perceptions of businesses are suffering,” said Escott.
“Just 3% of individuals in the UK believe big businesses are very transparent and honest. While no brand is immune to a crisis, we’ve seen again and again that those brands that act with honesty and integrity recover faster and are more respected by consumers than those who don’t.
“In a fiercely competitive industry, retailers and supermarkets have to work hard for our custom. The strides they have made in operating in a more transparent and interactive way with their consumers certainly seems to have paid off given their position as the most authentic sector in the UK.”
Ten most authentic brands.
Top 10 most authentic UK brands
Top 10 most authentic global brands
1: Marks & Spencer
3: John Lewis
8: The Co-operative Group