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Munich, 27 May 2013 — The Serviceplan Group is presenting the results of its "Sustainability Image Score" (SIS) for the third time now. This survey conducted by Facit Research shows the effect of sustainable operations on a company's image, consumers' willingness to buy and customer loyalty, and, above all, how the company's efforts and marketing relating to sustainability are perceived and rated by consumers. This is why the people invited to participate in the survey were not sustainability experts or opinion formers, but exclusively consumers and brand users.

8,000 representatively selected people were asked about 103 companies from 17 industries. The results make it possible to gain a precise impression of the sustainability image of individual companies or entire industries from the point of view of consumers and how sustainability affects added brand value.

The results of this year's rankings show that sustainability has become central to society. Sustainability that is recognised by customers is a clearly identifiable driving force in boosting sales and adding value. The reverse is also true: companies with a credibility problem when it comes to sustainability have problems overall.

"The issue of sustainability has now really become ingrained in the minds of consumers. They are understanding the concept more and more fully and in all its aspects. This also explains why sustainability marketing is being assessed more sensitively and critically. Talking about sustainability is not enough – companies are required to play by certain rules. For example, greenwashing and implausible marketing are immediately recognised as such by consumers and companies are punished accordingly", says Joachim Schöpfer, Managing Director of Serviceplan Corporate Reputation.

"Crises heavily influence consumers' general awareness of the issue of sustainability. Therefore, in 2013, consumers seem a bit less critical overall than last year, because there have been no major crises such as Fukushima in
2012. This is reflected in the assessment of the brands, which was better overall. However, consumers react immediately and critically to corporate scandals. It is therefore particularly important for companies to take an intensive approach to dealing with the issue of sustainability marketing", adds Katrin Meyer-Schönherr, Managing Director of Facit Research.

HiPP in first place for the third time
Rank Sectors
1 Baby food
2 Pharmacy products
3 Domestic appliances
4 Convenience/frozen food
5 Dairy products
6 Automotive
7 Confectionery
8 Tourism
9 Building/garden products
10 Online mail order business
11 Insurers
12 Food retail
13 Textile retail
14 Financial service providers
15 Energy providers
16 Fast food
17 Telecommunications


The company considered most sustainable by consumers is baby food manufacturer HiPP, which retains its top place in the rankings for the third successive year. The study's other winners (such as dm-Drogeriemarkt and Miele) also offer prime examples of successful sustainability measures and marketing that are appropriate for the company.
"Companies that adapt their sustainability marketing effectively to suit the core brand and view it as part of brand management and corporate communication have a good chance of building up a positive corporate reputation. They do not have to do everything perfectly all the time, but do the right thing with the right attitude", said Meyer-Schönherr.

There were hardly any changes to the positions at the bottom of the table. The last few places are dominated by telecommunications companies, fast food outlets, energy providers and financial service providers.

Ten factors that contribute to a company's sustainability image.
During the analysis of the results, Facit was able to identify ten relevant factors that particularly contribute to the sustainability image of a brand:

1. Commitment to environmental protection issues
2. Responsible use of resources
3. Contribution to enhancing quality of life
4. Good relationship with environmental protection organisations
5. Environmentally friendly technologies
6. Involvement in the production countries
7. Compliance with relevant environmental norms and standards
8. Awards (e.g. the Ökosiegel (eco seal of approval))
9. Clear profile of ecological activities
10. Recyclable packaging

"The companies ranked very near the bottom in particular would be well advised to tackle the issue of sustainability.

It is no longer just a buzzword and consumers are also rating this issue as more and more relevant. According to our findings, its significance has increased across all brands and sectors", said Schöpfer.

The study

A total of 8,000 people were asked about their opinion on the sustainability of 103 companies from 17 sectors. The online survey asked each participant for their personal views on two companies. The participants were selected by a market research panel. The participant sample was selected representatively by an online panel. In order to analyse the importance and assessment of sustainability for these companies from the customers' viewpoint, a set of specially developed and scientifically validated indicators was created, made up of the three traditional elements of sustainability:

1. Green Image Score (ecological sustainability): the ecological perception of a company, e.g. responsible use of resources.

2. Economic Image Score (economic sustainability): the assessment of whether a company operates fairly and responsibly or is prone to questionable business practices, bribery and corruption.

3. Social Image Score (social sustainability): Does the company provide good working conditions? Does it make an effort to provide secure jobs? Does it accept its social responsibility? Is it committed to charitable causes?
The Sustainability Image Score (SIS) combines these three elements to produce an index value that reflects the overall sustainability image. A three-tier model was developed to analyse factors influencing sustainability. The first level determines the importance of the individual sustainability indicators. Level two combines these indicators to produce a sustainability factor and calculates the extent to which sustainability contributes to the overall corporate image. The top level measures the effect that sustainability has on consumer behaviour (such as intention to purchase, reselection, recommendation to others, etc.).
With the help of a structural equation model, the overall effects across several analysis levels were calculated and the interactions within and between these levels were taken into account. The result presents sustainability in a holistic system.

The Ranking

1. Hipp 36. Siemens
2. Miele 37. Hornbach
3. dm-Drogeriemarkt 38. P&C
4. Alete 39. Samsung
5. Milupa 40. Kaufland
6. Toyota 41. FTI
7. Bärenmarke 42. LG
8. Coppenrath & Wiese 43. Nordsee
9. BMW 44. Müller Drogerie
10. Audi 45. ING-DIBA
11. Lindt & Sprüngli 46. Renault
12. Landliebe 47. TUI
13. Frosta 48. Edeka
14. Bosch 49. Ford
15. Ehrmann 50. Wagner
16. Dr. Oetker 51. Mars
17. Knorr 52. Otto
18. Haribo 53. Sparkasse
19. Volkswagen 54. Bauhaus
20. McCain 55. Ferrero
21. Iglo 56. Esprit
22. Thomas Cook 57. Tengelmann
23. Storck 58. Rewe
24. AEG 59. R+V
25. Weltbild.de 60. Wiesenhof
26. Mercedes-Benz (Daimler) 61. Obi
27. Bauknecht 62. Real
28. Danone 63. Allianz
29. Tchibo 64. Gothaer
30. ITS Reisen 65. V&R Banken
31. Dirk Rossmann 66. Zalando.de
32. Ernsting's Family 67. C&A
33. Wrigley 68. EON
34. Maggi 69. EnBw
35. Alltours 70. Targobank

 

All the information on the current study, including full lists of the rankings, can also be found at http://sp-url.com/sis2013 and on theServiceplan Corporate Reputationhomepage.

You can find the results from previous years at http://sp-url.com/sis2012 and http://sp-url.com/sis2011.

Contact

Claudia Kirchmair

Claudia Kirchmair
Corporate Communication & PR

+49 89 2050 2273

E-Mail: c.kirchmair(at)serviceplan.com