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The power of reputation and sustainability

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Debbie Hannan

International research shows the growing value of industry reputation and sustainable business practices. People want to buy food from trusted and sustainable sources.

The global Consumer Goods forum has said that food safety and consumer trust are two of the most important subjects for consumers and companies today. As the CEO of the retail giant Walmart, Doug McMillon recently tweeted, “customers want food they can trust”.

A survey of 3,043 consumers around the globe by SGS, one of the world’s largest certification companies, shows that 91 per cent say it is important to know where their food comes from – 40 per cent say they would pay more for better information.

A 2014 sales analysis by the Nielsen research company showed that brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew over four per cent, while those without saw less than one per cent growth.

A more recent global online survey conducted by Nielsen found that 66 per cent of respondents say they are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies which are committed to positive social and environmental impact, up from 50 per cent in 2013.

Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers in 60 countries across the globe and asked them to indicate what factors had the most influence on their purchasing habits. The most important factors among those surveyed were brand trust, natural ingredients and health and wellness benefits.

“Brand trust and reputation are paramount,” says Carol Gstalder, Nielsen’s senior vice president, reputation and public relations solutions.

“An excellent reputation makes it far more likely a company will be welcomed into new communities, partner with respected non-profits working on issues consumers care about most; and be a go to source for products and services. And what we know for sure is that sustainability is playing an increasingly significant role in decision making.”

The New Zealand seafood industry’s work to gain accreditation for its fisheries through the internationally recognised not-for-profit Marine Stewardship Council, is a good example of this, says Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive, Tim Pankhurst.

A survey by SenateSHJ in late 2105 of 150 business leaders across Australia and New Zealand showed that 96 per cent of respondents say reputation is one of their primary assets, compared with only half 10 years ago. More than half those surveyed also agree that reputation is harder to manage than other forms of risk.

Six out of ten say there has been an increase in the risks affecting reputation over the last three years ago and it is more important to manage now than it was three years ago.

Achieving social licence and the right to operate is critical to the ongoing success of the seafood industry, says Pankhurst.

Seafood New Zealand has been working with Nielsen for the past two years to better understand the New Zealand public’s perceptions of the seafood industry.

A third annual survey into the industry’s reputation is being held later in 2016. An overview of the 2015 survey can be found in the April 2016 Seafood magazine.



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