As the flowers came to bloom here in Q2, temperatures may have risen but trust in Germany’s DAX 30 has fallen. It appears global trade tensions and political uncertainty have not only affected GDP negatively – but public sentiment as well, with the average Trust and Like Score of Germany’s DAX 30 companies falling by 1 point from 62.6 in Q1 to 61.6 in Q2. We have seen similar trends around Europe this quarter in both the UK and Denmark – although the biggest effect is seen in the UK with an almost 2-point decrease in Q2. Likewise across Europe, the German public is losing trust – almost a third of Germany’s top companies experienced a significant decrease in their reputation score during Q2, while only 4 companies saw significant improvements. Let us have a look at what’s going on with Germany’s DAX 30.
Spring typically signifies a time of new growth and it seems Adidas has taken advantage of the season. Despite a rough start in 2019, the sportswear giant’s 3.2-point increase was enough to bypass Siemens to retake 1st place as Germany’s most trusted and liked company for Q2 2019. As consumer expectations shift towards companies with purpose perhaps Adidas isn’t one to miss a trend. With news late last quarter of equal pay FIFA bonuses possibly spilling over, the release of a 100% recyclable running shoe made up of recycled ocean plastics, or even the rumors of Beyoncé choosing Adidas over Reebok for diversity reasons, it seems the company’s commitment to leading by example has won the hearts of the German public once again.
As runner-up in 2nd place, Deutsche Lufthansa makes an impressive recovery this quarter with a 6.5-point rise –making it our 2nd top riser for Q2. Though delays and cancellations may have been part of the reason for the company’s reputational turbulence last quarter, it could be that delays and cancellations helped raise perceptions this quarter. In the start of Q2, technical irregularities and bomb threats had the potential to lead the company into reputational decline. However, Lufthansa’s quick actions and systematic approach prioritized service and passenger safety. It seems the public understands things don’t always go according to plan, but it’s how corporations overcome these challenges that lead to reputational success.
With the rise of Adidas and Lufthansa, Siemens gets bumped from 1st to 3rd place after a slight 2.9-point drop in perceptions over Q2. It’s a close race at the top where just a couple points make up the difference. Nonetheless, Siemens holds a statistically steady score as one of Germany’s top 3 most trusted and liked companies.
A rather surprising top riser this quarter is Volkswagen Group with a 6.9-point Trust and Like Score increase over Q2. Since we began monitoring perceptions in Germany, the automaker has continuously scraped the bottom of the charts following the emissions scandal popularly coined ‘Dieselgate’. This is the most significant rise we have seen yet – moving the company from second to last up to 23rd in the ranking. While the release of the all-electric ID.3 in May could have helped to signal a new climate-friendly direction for the company – we can’t help but ask ourselves if the German public is finally willing to forgive the 2015 scandal. We have seen it has been difficult to rebuild trust, even after nearly four years. It will be interesting to follow perceptions over the rest of 2019 and see if VW’s reputation may finally be recovering.
After Lufthansa soars to the top to steal 2nd place, RWE becomes our third top riser of Q2. The energy supplier moves up the ranking with a 5.5-point increase in perceptions – landing it two placements ahead of Volkswagen in 21st place. With environmentalism and climate protection among the top priorities for German voters, RWE’s reputational rise could have very well come from the cancellation of future investment in coal-fired power plants to focus on renewables. Given the European Parliament elections this quarter, there appears to be an increase in perceptions for those acting ahead of regulation.
As emotions around the election heat up, Germany’s largest real-estate group Vonovia came under pressure with politicians such as Robert Habeck (The Greens) and Kevin Kühnert (SPD) pointing fingers directly at private housing companies for the rent crisis plaguing major German cities. The company’s increasing profits – partly due to rising rent prices – certainly didn’t seem to help improve perceptions. It appears even the real-estate giant’s housing guarantee for senior-aged tenants wasn’t enough to stop the company’s 9.8-point decline to an all-time low score of 35.6 points. With attempts by CEO Rolf Buch to repair the company’s reputation and address the housing crisis late this quarter, it will be interesting to see what happens in Q3.
Last quarter Fresenius Medical Care entered the top-3 for the first time but it appears that the tides have changed with an 8-point fall in Q2. Interestingly parent company Fresenius holds a steady strong score in 5th place in the ranking and even Fresenius Kabi appears to be holding a steady strong score as well.
Bayer suffered a reputational decline of its own with a 7.8-point fall in Q2 – most likely due to the U.S. litigation rulings over the recently acquired Roundup herbicide. With such a high interest in environmentalism amongst consumers, the company continues to face backlash in Germany. It is yet unclear whether Bayer’s future sustainability strategy will help improve perceptions.
Overall, rising global tensions and uncertainty appear to be affecting public sentiment across Germany. Evidence suggests rising concerns of environmentalism and climate protection are moving from political debate to create an evolution in consumer expectations for German companies. Though the public is becoming more critical in Q2, Volkswagen makes a surprising start on the road to recovery and companies such as Adidas show reputational success can be led with purpose.
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