Steady at the top
Germany’s Q1 2019 reputation ranking results are in. After analyzing thousands of ratings, Siemens once again takes the title as the most trusted and liked company in the DAX 30 for Q1 2019. Despite the blocked merger with French Alstom coined ‘airbus on rails’ and CEO Joe Kaeser’s public twitter debate with EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the industrial powerhouse’s reputation remained stable earning it once again the title as Germany’s favorite company. Next up, chemicals company Linde moves to take 2nd place in the ranking, followed by Fresenius Medical Care in 3rd place. Both Linde and Fresenius Medical have improved in scores since Q4 2018 and have entered the top-3 for the first time in our German ranking.
It hasn’t been easy to be a top-performer in Germany – most of this year’s biggest fallers were some of 2018’s most trusted and liked companies. Deutsche Post appears to be in the midst of a reputational crisis down 8.1 points after massive outrage over undelivered letters and parcels – moving the company from a once celebrated 3rd to 14th place. To make matters worse, Deutsche Post seems to have been rather unresponsive – leaving both customers and employees feeling powerless and infuriated. One postman describes his workload as catastrophic and feels let down by management – “the managers get big money and we have to pay for it.” It will be interesting to see if the plan to hire 5000 new employees will be enough to regain the trust of not only the German public but their own workforce as well.
Europe’s largest airline Lufthansa also had a rough start to 2019 with delays and cancellations which could have contributed to the company’s 6.9-point drop – moving the company from 4th to 12th place. Public perceptions most likely didn’t improve after the news of Lufthansa suing customers for skiplagging – when a passenger books a cheaper, layover ticket with no intention of continuing to the final destination. It appears the general public may not be on board with Lufthansa, seeing this as a typical case of a corporation going for profits over people.
And lest we forget sportswear giant Adidas, which has notably lost its place on the podium with a 6.4-point decrease in public perceptions. The recent bottlenecks in supply and disproportionate investment in the US could have caused more than weakening sales in the home market. However, the company’s announcement at the end of Q1 regarding equal pay bonuses for both men and women in the FIFA world cup may be what helped the company stay in the top 5. This was a strong statement by the largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe – especially at a time when gender equality has been receiving what seems like more lip service than action.
Purpose is on the Rise
Last year our analysis revealed that German companies scored significantly lower in terms of relevance. It appears Q1’s biggest risers may have found the key. German insurance company Munich Re takes the title as Q1’s biggest riser after an 8.2-point jump in perceptions. The company seems to have developed a reputation as a leading expert on climate change. Perhaps this display of corporate purpose is what’s responsible for the remarkable rise from 18th to 4th place in our reputation ranking.
Deutsche Börse is creating a sense of purpose of its own with the cooperative development of what has been called a “trusted digital asset ecosystem”. This proactive move to add transparency to the financial industry may have been what the German public needed to raise perceptions by 4.7 points – making it Q1’s second biggest riser.
A rather surprising rise came from software giant SAP which went up 4.3 points despite the announcement of major restructuring. Rumors had already been spreading by the end of 2018 which may have been the reason behind the company’s 7.6-point drop in perceptions from Q3 to Q4. It appears the German software company is making a comeback with a 4.3-point rise, perhaps signaling a partial recovery for this DAX 30 darling.
Overall, Q1 in Germany seems to show a mix of stability for some and volatility for others. Most interesting would be to follow those who have gone through dramatic reputational shifts – like Munich Re, Adidas, Lufthansa and Deutsche Post – and see if those changes are mere swings or persistent trends. We’ll be sure to follow up on that in our next review.
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