At Caliber we believe that companies – like people – need to possess a strong character in order to be liked and trusted by those around them. And while having character is often associated with being unique and memorable, strong character also means having integrity. People with a strong character benefit from the resulting trust and affection by having tighter and wider networks of friends and allies. Similarly, companies with a strong character win customers, ambassadors and greater loyalty from important stakeholders such as employees, investors and partners.
Since we believe a strong character is reflected by being trusted and liked, we measure a company’s perceived character by quantifying the strength of these two emotions. In Denmark we measure that on a regular basis through our syndicated research, which covers the country’s most prominent companies, as measured by their turnover, number of employees, familiarity among the general public, market share and other similar criteria. We recently published this year’s first quarterly ranking of 100 companies based on the scores generated in January, February and March 2017. These were the top 10 most liked and trusted companies in Denmark.
While some measure stakeholder perceptions on an annual or bi-annual basis, we choose to do so daily and review scores week by week, month by month, and quarter by quarter. Why do we do that? Because it allows us and our clients to better understand what drives people’s perceptions, how fast, how often and for how long. This means that we all get smarter and better at learning from the past and present when planning the future and making concrete decisions. For example, here are a few things we learned when reviewing the changes of scores throughout the first quarter of 2017.
The sector matters – but not always
Companies in the top 10 represent various industries, from toy manufacturing, food retail and manufacturing of pumps and electrical motors, to jewelry, emergency services and hearing aids.
With that said, the sector still matters. Banking, Insurance, Energy, Telecom and Transportation/Logistics seem to be the sectors that the Danish public “loves to hate”, with companies in these sectors ranking low on our list. In some cases it may be due to a monopolistic heritage, in others perhaps the perceived lack of transparency or understanding by the public. Interestingly though, there seem to be some notable exceptions. GLS is one of them.
GLS is among the biggest climbers in trust & affection score this quarter, widening the gap between its score and that of the troubled PostNord – showing that a logistics company can still gain significant goodwill from the public by offering easily-accessible, competitively-priced and good quality services.
Can Facebook and Amazon be trusted?
The GAFA companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) – while admired globally for their innovation dominance – have for a while now been far from the Danes’ favorites. They all score in the weak or average tiers, with Facebook being the weakest, followed by Apple (traditionally a favorite, also in Denmark, but no longer trusted or liked as before). However, Facebook’s trust & affection score rose more than any other company in Q1, suggesting its moves to tackle fake news is winning public endorsement and may start mending the long-held negative perceptions towards it. Another climber is Amazon, whose score has risen steadily over the last 6 months to rival that of major retailers like Magasin du Nord, H&M and Jysk. Given the fall or stagnation at the same period of Bilka, Føtex and Netto – it seems like Dansk Supermarked’s attempt to “unite the Danish retailers in the fight against Amazon” may face some challenges, as far as public sentiment is concerned.
A. P. Moller–Maersk still going strong despite poor financial performance
One of the biggest financial losses in Danish corporate history didn’t seem to bother the public much – A.P. Møller-Mærsk’s trust & affection score remained largely unchanged throughout the first quarter of 2017 with a very modest (around 1-point) decline in January when news first came out, and no change in February upon the official announcement. While the public understands the company is facing commercial challenges, the heritage seems strong enough to prevent negative news from damaging the well-established positive perceptions of this “Danish darling”. This is a clear example of how a strong corporate character acts as a buffer from the impact of negative news on public perceptions.
Tough times for DR
While DR has traditionally enjoyed better perceptions than TV2 in the Danish market, the situation has flipped in the first quarter of 2017 with TV2 demonstrating one of the biggest rises, and DR one of the biggest falls. This could potentially be related to the tough few months DR has had, with stories about reporters flying horses to America at the taxpayer’s expense, a radio program illegally “making a few bucks on the side” and abusing poor café owners, and the symphony orchestra fighting for its existence. The beneficiary is clearly TV2.
As we continue to work with companies to help them articulate and demonstrate a strong, authentic and unique character – we will keep placing a premium on stakeholder perceptions: their nature and evolution bring invaluable insights to unlocking a company’s unique value drivers, and guiding concrete actions that ensure not only that the company stays true to its character, but that it also reaps the full benefits of that.
If you would like to learn more about the public trust and affection towards your company, and better understand your position in the ranking feel free to contact us on [email protected].
ABOUT THE STUDY
Caliber believes companies that are driven by a unique purpose and act with integrity build a strong Corporate Character – which wins the trust and affection of their stakeholders, and secures the company’s long-term legitimacy and success. The Corporate Character Index is therefore made out of 2 questions (to what extent do respondents like and trust a particular company) that are posed to a representative sample of the Danish population through online panels. Answers are given on a 1-7 scale by respondents who are sufficiently familiar with the rated company, and are then rescaled to a 0-100 score. The survey is conducted on a daily basis, and scores are calculated in real time. Every month Caliber calculates cumulative monthly scores, and every quarter it calculates quarterly scores that are the average of the 3 preceding monthly scores. The 2017 Q1 scores herein are based on a total of 4.843 respondents and 41.837 ratings. The 100 companies were selected for inclusion in this survey based on their deemed prominence in the Danish market – using criteria such as turnover, employee base, public familiarity, market share etc.