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Consumers rate reputations of top companies

UBS chairman Marcel Ospel was rated highly - unlike the bank he runs Keystone

The Swiss hold supermarkets, public utilities and cooperative enterprises in high regard but have a low opinion of banks, a business reputation survey reveals.

This content was published on April 6, 2006 - 11:51

Supermarket chain Migros emerged with the best image from the Reputation Institute's study of Switzerland's 21 biggest businesses, while the country's largest bank, UBS, trailed the field.

Perhaps surprisingly, UBS chairman Marcel Ospel was named in the top three Swiss leaders despite the lowly reputation of the bank he runs.

The Reputation Institute asked 1,100 Swiss consumers what they thought of their country's largest companies (by market valuation) for the Global RepTrak Pulse 2006 survey.

Contributors were selected by geographical location, age, gender and income to form a representative sample of the Swiss population.

Each respondent rated a maximum of five firms with marks out of seven, and each of the 21 companies was assessed by at least 150 people. The results were then converted into grades on a scale of 0-100 points.

Migros comfortably led the field with 80.1 points and UBS propped up the table with a rating of 51.5. Switzerland's second largest bank, Credit Suisse, also fared badly but cooperative bank Raiffeisen ended with the second-highest reputation, with supermarket chain Coop coming in third.

The Swiss also appear to be satisfied with their public utility services with Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and Swiss Post achieving high marks. Telecoms operator Swisscom is in the top half of the table at a time when the government is planning to sell its majority stake in the company.

International comparison

Compared with other countries surveyed, the Swiss have a higher regard for supermarkets and utilities but a weaker opinion of insurance companies and pharmaceuticals.

The general perceived reputation of top companies did not vary much across the globe, but banks consistently scored poorly across the 25 countries subjected to the RepTrak survey.

The three most respected Swiss company leaders were Ospel, SBB chief Benedikt Weibel and Nicolas Hayek of Swatch, a firm not included in the reputation study.

The survey only asked people about their general feelings about the companies rather than delving into the reasons for their responses.

Survey researcher Davide Ravasi admitted opinions may have been influenced as much by media reports as by personal experience with brands.

"We are not measuring reality, we are measuring people's perceptions. We measure what people think they know rather than what they really know," he told a conference in Zurich on Wednesday.

"Sometimes a good reputation blinds people as to what is really going on. Enron [the United States energy company that collapsed in 2001 following an accountancy scandal] is a good example of this."

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Zurich

In brief

The Reputation Institute is an international private research and consulting organisation formed in 1997 with the aim of advancing knowledge about corporate reputations.

The Institute has three branches: academic research, commercial consulting and knowledge sharing through business networks.

Switzerland has had associate membership of the Reputation Institute since November 2005 in the shape of Basel-based marketing and corporate communications firm Gruner Brenneisen Communications.

The Global Reptrak Pulse 2006 survey was conducted in 25 countries, including the United States, China, India, Italy, Germany, France, Russia and Latin American states.

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Key facts

Reputation Institute Global RepTrak Pulse 2006 survey of Swiss company reputations:

Migros 80.1 points
Raiffeisen 77
Coop 72.9
SBB 71
Nestlé 70.4
Swiss Post 66.1
Roche 65
Swisscom 64.1
Novartis 63.3
Zurich Financial Services 61.4
Ciba 61.4
Winterthur Insurance 61.1
Baloise 60.9
ABB 60.5
Clariant 60.3
Helvetia Patria 58.7
Swiss Life 58.6
Richemont 58
Credit Suisse 55.1
Adecco 55
UBS 51.5

Average score 64

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