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Corporate Reputation Is On Customers List

Mon, 4 Oct 2004

Corporate Reputation Is On Customers' "Shopping Lists"

Auckland, 4 October 2004 - An increasing number of senior executives globally are recognising and valuing the importance of their company's "corporate reputation". They believe that corporate reputation is having growing influence on customer decisions, and also the better the reputation, the easier it is to retain and recruit staff.

These are the findings of a "corporate reputation watch survey" undertaken by international public relations and public affairs company Hill & Knowlton among senior executives in Europe, USA and Asia Pacific, in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Hill & Knowlton's New Zealand manager Paul Hemsley says more and more executives believe "reputation" is on customers shopping lists, and tangible in purchase decisions.

"Once accorded a low priority by senior managers, there is now much keener interest in the management of corporate reputation because of the upsides for business.

"A measure of this interest is the fact that senior executives believe that customers now place the same emphasis on 'corporate reputation' as they do 'brand recognition' when evaluating a purchase decision.

"The ability to generate additional sales is the second most salient benefit of reputation according to those surveyed."

Mr Hemsley says such attitudes are driving the way companies are communicating with consumers.

"There is evidence that companies are seeking greater integration of the brand marketing messages and their corporate communications.

"While few New Zealand companies are sufficiently large enough to warrant separate brand and corporate communication specialists, what we often see in this market is disproportionate weighting to either brand or corporate - the promotion of the brand without focus on the corporate and vice versa.

"As senior executives recognise the benefits of both, I expect the balance between them improves."

Mr Hemsley says that underpinning this trend is the way senior executives now rank customers and consumers as the stakeholder group most interested in a company's reputation, even ahead of investors and lenders."

Another finding of the survey was the acceptance by senior corporate leaders of the recent wave of corporate governance reform measures.

"Management is now focusing its efforts on making substantive, sustainable change to their governance profile. This goal is to encourage long-term investor and customer confidence.

"There is consensus that the spirit of these reforms is here to stay."

ENDS

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