Executives are customers too. So, why the perception gap on what influences brand, reputation and trust?

Creative Commons License photo credit: hunter.gatherer

A few days ago across at Marketing Pilgrim, Cynthia Boris wrote 70 Percent of Consumers Won’t Buy from a Company They Don’t Like.

The source of the statement was from a new report from Weber Shandwick, a global PR agency, called “The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.”

According to Weber Shandwick:

“The research was conducted in October and November 2011 among 1,375 consumers (ages 18+) and 575 senior executives in companies with revenue of $500 million or more. Respondents were located in four key markets: two developed markets (the U.S. and U.K.) and two emerging markets (China and Brazil).”

Now, there are some interesting findings in this report about what drives reputation and these are applicable to both large and small companies. It is worth checking out.

weber shandwick

However, if you dig into the report there are a couple of charts in there that made me think (What influences consumer perceptions about companies? on p.17 and What influences company reputation, according to executives? on p.20). If you want to see the whole report and check out what I am talking about the click on “The Company behind the Brand: In Reputation We Trust.”

The reason I found it interesting was that these two questions reminded me of a piece of research that RightNow Technologies conducted back in 2005 (The Loyalty Connection: Secrets To Customer Retention) that included some insights on the difference in perception between an executives view of the world and a customers view of the world and the reasons that customers leave.

Back to the Weber Shandwick research. If you take their data and stand it side by side then you get the following chart:

What Influences Reputation Weber Shandwick

What did you notice?

For me, there are a few things that stand out:

  1. Executives placed more importance on every identified source of influence than customers.
  2. Executives place way too much importance compared to their customers on Company leader communications, Awards and rankings and advertising as influencers of their reputation. The first and, perhaps part of, the second I can understand from a market and shareholder perspective if you are a traded company. However, what it shows is that there are still many businesses and in business that are following and believing a ‘broadcast’ model of marketing and doing business.
  3. Whilst customers are coming to trust social networks increasingly, according to Edelman – another PR agency, executives seem to believing a lot of the hype that exists around social networks and are over stating their influence.

No wonder corporate executives are running around worrying about everything all of the time. Maybe they are worrying about a few too many things too much.

But, the thing that worries me the most is the perception gap that seems to exist. Why is that? Surely, executives are customers too. So, why is there a perception gap between the two groups on what influences brand, reputation and trust?

We are living in a changing world and are striving to build more customer centric businesses, get closer to our customers and better understand them. Seems like many still have some way to go.

12 comments On Executives are customers too. So, why the perception gap on what influences brand, reputation and trust?

  • That is true,Adrian. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said, “No wonder corporate executives are running around worrying about everything all of the time”. I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you’re talking about. Can’t wait to read more from you!

    • Hi Daniel,
      Thank you for your comment and kind words. What line of business are you in and what do you write about?

      Hope to see you here again soon.


  • Hello Adrian

    Lets imagine the baron, the lord of the manor, the king goes shopping. Now ask the question: is this VIP a customer like any ordinary customer? Now you have your answer.

    VIPs live in a totally different environment from ordinary customers. Their worldview is different, their values are different, their spending power is different, the brands that they actually shop with are completely different, the experience that they encounter is different. Once when I was like a VIP I had all of my travel arrangements made for me and it was bliss. Then I was no longer a VIP (moved to small company) and then I had to make my own travel arrangements. It occured as a shock! It occured as hard work!

    The same kind of issue is prevalent in the automotive industry. The people at the OEM (the manufacturers) have pretty much everything laid on a plate for them. A new car arrives at work. That car is replaced every six months or so. A visit to the dealer is never made: no driving to dealers, no hagging, no service visits. Any surprise that the customer experience can be a nightmare for the ordinary car buyer/owner?


    • Maz,
      No, no surprise. I fear you are right. All I can say is bring back ‘Customer Immersion’ for everyone at all levels in a business. It’s the only way that we can burst the big bubbles that exist.


  • Pingback: Bill Gibeault ()

  • Pingback: ♥ Suzie ♥ ()

  • Pingback: Carlos Oliveira ()

  • Pingback: Jenny J ()

  • Great article! I loved the insight and also the advice given . Also, your blogging style is very fun to read. If you have enough time please browse my brand new website and let me know what you think.

    • Thanks for your comment and feedback. Really pleased that you like the site and the writing style.

      I’ll check out your site too.

      Hope to see you round here again soon.

      All the best,


  • Pingback: Qaalfa Dibeehi ()

  • Pingback: Qaalfa Dibeehi ()

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer