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Integrity Increasingly Important In Perception Of Brands, Trust

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, June 23 NZPA - Some of the nation's biggest advertisers are well down the latest list of "trusted brands" compiled in an annual survey of New Zealand consumers.

"Brands are increasingly being questioned in terms of their integrity," brand strategist Brian Richards told NZPA.

" Globally, you're seeing growing anti-consumptive trends based on where the thing's made, who made it and child labour -- carbon footprints are the next big thing that will put us under a microscope."

Where consumers did not recognise the integrity of a product or its brand, it was difficult for advertising to make headway.

"No matter how much money you throw at the television, credibility seems to slide through the gaps," said Mr Richards.

With people exposed to about 58 brands a day, only about three or four registered enough to have any chance to change a person's mindset.

He was commenting on the 2009 list of trusted brands produced by the Readers Digest magazine, which was today topped by Cadbury for the seventh consecutive year, with Fonterra icecream brand, Tip Top, in second place, the same ranking as last year.

They were followed by Sony at number three, Toyota at four and Panadol in fifth place.

But the Australian banks which dominate New Zealand's retail banking sector took a hammering.

ASB -- controlled by Australia's Commonwealth Bank -- fell 33 places in the list to 80, ANZ was down 31 places to 124 and BNZ fell 26 places to 113. National Bank was also down 23 places to 96 and Westpac down five places to 101.

Mr Richards said the slump in those bank ratings probably reflected consumers' views of issues such as finance company failures, but he noted that Kiwibank's ranking at 30 beat its Australian banking rivals by nearly 50 places, with ASB the nearest challenger.

"There's a bit of nationalism creeping in -- most of us know that Kiwibank is the only one on the block that we actually own," he said.

He said New Zealanders looked for certainty in brands and this was particularly true in uncertain times.

Most people were not looking for too much change.

"The top 15 brands are companies like Sanitarium, Fisher & Paykel, L&P and Watties. These are brands we're familiar with, they're consistent and we know their heritage, and that's what makes us trust them.

"In a recession when people are losing their jobs and times are tough, people turn to simple pleasures like chocolate and ice cream," Mr Richards said.

"These are emotive products that they trust will make them feel good."

New Zealand Post, rose 13 places to number 13 to become the most trusted service provider, and national carrier Air New Zealand also ranked highly at 18, 22 places ahead of its nearest rival Singapore Airlines.

In contrast local telecommunications giant Telecom was the least trusted of the telecommunication companies, at 130, far behind multi-national Vodafone at 54 and Telstra Clear at 112.

"People are generally distrustful of a lot of things. When we're spending money we want to know that we're spending it on brands that will deliver what they promise," Mr Richards says.

Despite massive advertising spending, multi-national fast food franchises featured in the bottom 20 places with KFC ranked the lowest of the group at 135. McDonald's fared just better than Telecom at 129, Burger King was at 120 and Pizza Hutt at 113.

Mr Richards says people are questioning what was in their food more than ever before and that probably accounted for the distrust of fast food.

"People want to know where their food is coming from, what processes are used to create it and are questioning the integrity of companies more than ever before.

"Increased publicity about healthy eating and the growing issue of obesity has meant fast food franchises have copped a lot of flak."

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