Woolworths emerged in first place in the annual Business Trust Barometer, a national survey rating South Africa's most trusted companies. Placed second and third respectively were Vodacom and South African Airways. In 2003, the most trusted company was Pick 'n Pay (this year placed sixth), with Standard Bank second and ABSA third.
Trust is a key value-driver in any business relationship and has developed into a wanted, precious entity over the past few years, says Andrea Rademeyer, managing director of Pretoria-based Ask Afrika and founder of the Trust Barometer.
"The constructs of corporate governance and social responsibility have increased the emphasis on trust as a key driver of financial performance and economic stability," she continues.
For the 2004 survey, the second of its kind, strategic research and consultancy
company Ask Afrika, chose 75 leading South African companies in 11 categories to identify South Africa's most trusted company.
This year's survey doubled the number of companies surveyed and the methodology was expanded to measure underlying reasons for peoples' trust and factors that impact on it.
Ask Afrika has succeeded in highlighting the importance of trust in businesses as an element that has a major impact on customers' future purchasing intention. The Trust Barometer is a great opportunity for companies to gain valuable insight into the level of trust within its particular framework, she explained.
"Interestingly, the top five companies in this year's survey are from different sectors, whereas last year four of the top five were from the financial services sector. This year that sector has only one company in the top echelon. Apart from Woolworths, Vodacom and SAA, this year the top five include Old Mutual and Eskom, with the percentage differences between the top five being extremely small. Woolworths achieved overall category honours in both the clothing stores and grocery stores categories.
That one company emerges strongly trusted in two distinctly different business arenas is quite an achievement. It is a reflection of its strong multitiered position in the marketplace, says Rademeyer.
Rademeyer says the interview sample for input via telephonic interviews this year comprised 489 individuals. These included journalists, financial executives and opinion leaders - all regarded as informed individuals who are able to rate the surveyed companies critically from a number of different points before making their selection.
"We believe they could take emotion out of their assessments. Journalists have an inherent objectivity, executives look at matters with a keen eye on performance, the bottom line and factors that influence them and opinion leaders are able to make judgments on sound comparative analysis," Rademeyer explains.
In terms of the methodology, the companies surveyed were selected on the basis of market share figures, strong brand identity and some were spontaneously mentioned in the inaugural 2003 Trust Barometer.
The 75 companies selected embraced 11 categories. They were clothing stores
(Woolworths), telecommunications (Vodacom), airlines (South African Airways), long-term insurance (Old Mutual), grocery stores (Woolworths), parastatals (Eskom), banking (Absa), petrol brands (Caltex), automotive (Mercedes Benz), short-term insurance (Outsurance), fast food (Nando's), and with each category having between five (telecommunications and parastatals) and 10 (automotive) companies considered for the survey. The companies were measured against companies in the same market but that traded in different segments within those markets, which meant they were measured against companies that were not generally classified as their direct competitors. For example, Woolworths, in the clothing sector, was measured against its immediate competitors at the top end of the market as well as Pep, Mr Price and Sales House.
The winners within the different categories of the survey were ranked as follows:
Woolworths was the overall winner of the study and of this category, followed by Edgars in the second place and then Mr Price in the third place.
The company that is mostly trusted in the telecommunications space is Vodacom, followed by MTN in the second place and then Telkom in the third place.
The winner in this category is South African Airways, followed by British Airways in the second place and Kulula Airline took third place.
Old Mutual is the winner in the long-term insurance category, followed by Liberty Life and Sanlam taking the third place
Woolworths also took the first spot in the groceries section of the study, with Pick 'n Pay taking second place and Makro taking the third place.
The winner in this category is Eskom, followed by SABC and Telkom taking the third place.
In this category Absa took the first place, second was Standard Bank and third came Old Mutual Bank.
Caltex took the overall win in this category followed by BP and then Excel in the third position.
Mercedes Benz is winner in this category, followed by BMW in second place and Toyota taking third place.
In this category Outsurance took the first place, second was Budget and third came Mutual Federal.
Nando's emerged the winner in the fast foods category, followed by KFC in second place and Wimpy taking third place.
Rademeyer concludes that The Business Trust Barometer is the country's only credible measure that enables:
* Businesses to evaluate their level of consumer trust.
* Businesses to compare their trust with that of competitors.
* Identification of the most trustworthy categories.
* A measure of the nature of trust in South Africa.
* National current issues affecting trust (eg Black Economic Empowerment) to be addressed.
* The identification of key attributes in companies reputations that determine their trustworthiness.
* Business to take strategic steps to increase the perceived trustworthiness.
Formed in 1995, Ask Afrika is a strategic research partner that applies active intellect and connectivity to provide credible research results and consulting services to their wide range of blue chip clients.
For further information contacts Andrea Rademeyer, managing director, 012 428 7400, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org