Corporate trust defined by customers | #BizResearch with Dr Amelia Richards


Corporate trust and reputation are important topics for business leaders.  It is not just reserved for boardroom conversations but has become an important element that safeguards brands against customer churn thus having an impact on customer loyalty.

BizRadio in conversation with Ask Afrika’s Client Services Director, Dr Amelia Richards.

Podcast | Click HERE to listen

Looking back to the future:

The Trust Barometer™ has surveyed and tracked corporate reputation from 2004 with a credible measurement tool that measures corporate trust and reputation in the South African market.  The survey has been providing a valuable report on the most trusted and admired companies and leaders in South Africa and is a totally independent and objective measure.  It is the only benchmark of its kind in South Africa and is updated annually to remain relevant to the current business environment. Up to 2011 the Ask Afrika Trust Barometer™ has as its foundation 200 exclusive interviews with CEOs/MDs and senior executives of JSE-listed companies in South Africa.  By interviewing individuals who are experienced, exposed to business trends and who understand the challenge of maintaining a favourable reputation in today’s economic climate from a corporate perspective; the relevance of the results is ensured.  The first level refers to a peer review with a minimum sample of 200 business executives who report to directly to exco.  The sample was derived from and independent source such as the Stock Exchange Handbook of JSE-listed companies.  To refrain from biased results, respondents had to spontaneously nominate any company or business leader excluding the company they work for.  Spontaneous mentions imply that any company nominated by a respondent has already established its reputation in the corporate environment which allows for respondents to recall the company top of mind.  Annual updates on an independent and objective measure ensure benchmarked data that can be tracked over time.

The strong relationship between sustainability, reputation and trust was already evident in 2010.  The definition of sustainability is changing in the minds of business leaders.  Although financial well-being remains an important aspect, there is a shift towards business acknowledging that the sustainability agenda includes conducting business to the benefit of all stakeholders (not just shareholders).   In 2012, Ask Afrika (Pty) Ltd shifted the focus to defining corporate trust and reputation within the public domain and the results were published on the 24th of March 2012, in both the City Press and Rapport newspapers.  A sample of n=1,500 large enough national representative sample sizes enabled a quantification of results in a valid and reliable manner and the core focus was to determine how consumers view and define corporate trust and reputation.

The sample represents the following demographics:

Gender  Male (38%)Female (62%)
Province Limpopo (11%)North-West (5%)

Mpumulanga (6%)

Gauteng (26%)

Free State (4%)

KZN (23%),

Northern Cape (1%)

Eastern Cape (11%)

Western Cape (13%)

Race Black (74%)White (14%)

Indian (3%)

Coloured (9%)

Age 16-24 (22%)25-34 (32%)

35-49 (31%)

50+ (15%)

The voice of the customer should not be discarded when companies evaluate the overall trust in the reputation of their brands.  Insights from a customer perspective can determine why companies flourish; and why they fail. It provides insights into how to manage and maintain a favourable reputation among market-specific trends that could have an impact on reputation and stakeholder trust of the specific companies.

Consumers were interviewed telephonically in November 2012.  Two questions were posed to consumers:

Thinking of all companies operating in South Africa, not only JSE-listed ones, and excluding your company that you work for, who do you regard as the most trusted company in 2012?

Why do you say (company X) is the most trusted company?

2012 Trust Barometer™ Results:

According to consumers the most trusted companies in 2012 were:

Most trusted company in SA 2012
Overall ranking
2 Pick ‘n Pay
3 Standard Bank
5 Woolworthes
6 Capitec
7 Shoprite
8 Nedbank
9 Old Mutual
10 Vodacom

The most trusted industries were:

Financial and business services; Retail; and Telecommunications

Most trusted company in SA 2012
Financial and business services
2 Standard Bank
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Retail: Overall
1 Pick ‘n Pay
2 Woolworthes
3 Shoprite
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Clothing Retail
1 Edgars
2 Foschini
3 Jet
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Food Retail
1 Checkers
2 Pick n Pay
3 Shoprite


Most trusted company in SA 2012
Technology and telecommunication
1 Vodacom
3 Cell C


Most trusted company in SA 2012
Medical aid
1 Discovery
Most trusted company in SA 2012
1 Old Mutual
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Parastatal companies
1 Eskom

The trust imbedded in a brand’s reputation is important not only to business leaders but consumers as well.  The most important trust and reputational drivers in the consumer market are:

  • A customer centric focus that is visible in high quality products
  • Financial stability
  • Loyal customer base
  • Transparency and reliability
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Brand provide high quality products
1 Woolworths
2 Pick n Pay
3 Shoprite


Most trusted company in SA 2012
Brand is financially sound and profitable
1 Shoprite
2 Pick n Pay
3 Checkers
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Brand has a long term loyal supporting customer base
2 Standard Bank
3 Pick n Pay
Most trusted company in SA 2012
Brand is transparent and reliable
2 Standard Bank
4 Old Mutual

In summary it is clear that brand owners should take cognisance of the consumer voice when thinking of trust and reputation.  In order to gain the trust of consumers, brand owners should focus on being customer centric focus that is visible in high quality products, coupled with;

  • Financial stability
  • A loyal customer base, followed by
  • Transparency and reliability

Also Read & Listen to: Green living trends in South Africa | #BizResearch

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