Reputational drivers and attributes vary markedly across key industries in South Africa. This highlights the need for executives to harness effective reputation management strategies to improve their understanding of consumer behaviour.
Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultant’s inaugural Africa Reputation Index (ARI) found that in the food retail services sector people want exceptional customer service.
‘Detailed sectoral and comparative analysis is needed to enable companies to plan ahead of a crisis to improve outcomes and protect and enhance profits. If the impact of reputation is not well enough understood growth prospects will suffer,’ Katherine du Plessis, data analyst at Magna Carta emphasises.
Magna Carta’s Index, was undertaken in collaboration with leading marketing strategy consultancy, Yellowwood. It enables high-level planning to limit reputational damage and provide companies in Africa with the tools needed to create an effective reputational management strategy – a vital component of business sustainability.
The index ranks companies in five separate industries – car manufacturers, food retailers, financial services, public services and telecommunications companies – in terms of their key reputational drivers. Each company received a reputation score out of 100. 1 306 South African consumers were surveyed.
In food retail services, known for visibility, people want exceptional customer service.
‘South African consumers are used to shopping where it is convenient, but food stores are complacent in not driving customer service. If they were to differentiate themselves in their service offering, customers will travel further resulting in more business, she says.
Another important finding is that corporate social investment (CSI) had the lowest ranking out of the reputational attributes across all industries. This is not to say that CSI is unimportant, but other attributes have more weight regarding corporate reputation.
‘The ranking of reputational drivers seems to follow reputation crises in various industries. For example, governance in telecommunications follows recent high-profile scandals in the sector. All measured attributes are important and so it follows that if a sector messes up on something like CSI in the future, you would probably find CSI jumping to the top of the queue as an industry reputational driver,’ Du Plessis maintains.
The bottom line is that reputational risk is on the rise.
‘It is clear that in the digital age of rapid information flow and consumption, effective crisis management is quickly emerging as a vital component of business sustainability. The best of breed in measurement and analytics is needed to ensure reputation plays an increasing role in corporate strategy and ultimately benefits, rather than damages, the bottom line,’ Sechaba Motsieloa, newly appointed CEO of Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants concludes.
Magna Carta aims to expand the index to other sectors within South Africa and into other African countries.