Mind the Gap: New FleishmanHillard Research Shows an Authenticity Gap for Companies Across the Globe

April 17, 2013


Research Illustrates What It Takes to Be an Authentic Leader and How 20 Industries Are Performing Today

ST. LOUIS, April 16, 2013 — FleishmanHillard today unveiled the results of its signature Authenticity Gap study, exploring the gap between what consumers experience from companies and what they expect of them. The research identifies the behaviors consumers most associate with authentic companies – and where organizations can make changes to improve their reputation in the minds of consumers.

“We looked across the industry and saw a lot of different reputation studies out there, but none was giving the C-suite very actionable insights into what they could do to change their reputation in the minds of various stakeholders,” said Marjorie Benzkofer, global lead of Fleishman-Hillard’s reputation management practice. “We designed the Authenticity Gap research to offer a new framework with unique insights in 20 different industry categories. We are stepping out beyond traditional reputation research to ask not just what consumers are experiencing with companies today, but also what they expect from them.”

Fleishman-Hillard and London-based research partner Lepere Analytics focused on the growing struggle companies face in closing the gap between the brand they project and the reputation and perceptions they actually hold in the minds of their audiences.

“When brand and reputation are not aligned, it creates a gap that damages an organization’s credibility and authenticity,” said Dave Senay, president and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard. “We are continuing a conversation about authenticity that was started by the Arthur Page Society and giving C-suite executives actionable, company-specific insights they can apply to their business and communication strategies to create the kind of engagement that drives business success.”

The Authenticity Gap research studied 20 industry categories in the United States, Germany and China. While there are reports with insights specific to each of the categories, these are some of the global headlines:

  • For every brand studied, there is an authenticity gap – a gap between people’s expectations of the industry category and their actual experiences of the company or brand.
  • When asked about the behaviors of authentic companies, consumers identified nine drivers that can be grouped in three essential strands: management behavior, customer benefits and society outcomes. The research showed that for consumers, attributes related to corporate behavior (management behavior and impact on society) matter as much as those associated with customer care.
  • There is no such thing as a global market: Consumer expectations in virtually every one of the 20 categories studied differ from country to country.
  • The categories that appear to have the greatest momentum in meeting consumer expectations are: online shopping, major appliances, tablets and e-readers, and pharmaceuticals. Those with the weakest momentum are vacation and travel, Internet service providers, and wireless carriers. These seven categories appear consistently in the top/bottom 10 across all three countries.

The research uses a patent-pending methodology developed by Lepere for polling “expert consumers.” Flipping the traditional recruitment methodology, Lepere identified expert consumers who have a high level of interest, knowledge, engagement and influence in the specific industries they were questioned about in the survey. This validated approach provides much richer insights than simple man-on-the-street polling done in other surveys.

Fleishman-Hillard is launching the research in conjunction with its new Center on Reputation & Relationships, which will host insights and workshops from luminaries across the industry on topics related to brand and reputation. A broad look at the research is hosted on the site and includes commentary today from Janet Robinson, former president and CEO of The New York Times Co., James O’Rourke, professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, and Roger Bolton, president of the Arthur Page Society.

The Center offers visitors a look at some of the 20 different industry categories studied in the research, insights from leaders in the industries and the opportunity to pull additional industry- or company-specific reports.

“The research identifies nine behaviors consumers said were important in shaping their perceptions about a company,” Benzkofer said. “Mapped against these nine drivers of authenticity, it is remarkable to see how results vary so dramatically for each industry and country by country.”

About Lepere Analytics
Lepere Analytics is an independent research firm whose data forecasts company reputation and revenue. The methodology is US Patent Pending, is independently validated and is used by Wall Street investment analysts and portfolio managers. Lepere Analytics was founded in 2007. It is a privately held company, registered in the UK with partners based in London and New York.

Polling is conducted for Lepere Analytics by Ipsos – the world’s third largest research company with operations in 84 countries. Online panels are in compliance with International quality standards ESOMAR and AIMRI and certified on key ISO standards.

About Fleishman-Hillard
Fleishman-Hillard Inc., one of the world’s leading strategic communications firms, has built its reputation on creating integrated solutions that deliver what its clients value most: meaningful, positive and measurable impact on the performance of their organizations. The firm is widely recognized for excellent client service and a strong company culture founded on teamwork, integrity and personal commitment. Based in St. Louis, the firm operates throughout North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America through its 80 owned offices. For more information, visit the Fleishman-Hillard website at www.fleishmanhillard.com. Fleishman-Hillard is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.

About Diversified Agency Services
Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), manages Omnicom’s holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

About Omnicom Group Inc.
Omnicom Group Inc. (www.omnicomgroup.com) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.

Key Points

  • FleishmanHillard and Lepere Analytics study identifies the behaviors consumers most associate with authentic companies.
  • Study covers 20 industry categories in the United States, Germany and China.
  • The categories best meeting consumer expectations are online shopping, major appliances, tablets and e-readers, and pharmaceuticals.


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