Several brands have made significant moves up Leger’s brand reputation index this year despite some very challenging market conditions and, in some cases, bad PR. Marketing wanted to highlight some of the most interesting companies among these brands to explore what consumers are seeing as they make decisions on where to spend.
Scroll down for the Top 100 Leger Brand Reputation results
Up six places to #6
Financial website The Motley Fool recently declared Dollarama “Canada’s best retailer,” just one of many media accolades the dollar store chain has garnered in this, its first year in the top 10 of Leger’s brand reputation survey. It has enjoyed sales increases quarter after quarter even after the company raised the price of some items by as much 100% last year to account for the sinking Canadian dollar.
“It didn’t hurt their reputation at all because we’re still talking $2 and $3 price points,” says John Williams, senior partner of strategy and new concepts at JC Williams Group.
Rather than spend money on advertising, Williams says the national chain has built a reputation on “solid value, which they’ve been doing for a long time, but no longer just on price. They’ve also endeared themselves to consumers by boosting its value through product innovation and its seasonal merchandising strategy.” Williams says Dollarama is always ahead of other retailers in rotating inventory. “The day Christmas is over, Valentine’s Day product is up, and the day Easter is [over], Mother’s Day is in your face,” he says.
The national chain also carries smaller sizes of canned foods. “They have a lot of market appeal – for the needy, for the elderly and for singles. They’ve really pioneered smaller-size options at retail.”
The CBC is one of Canada’s most enduring public institutions despite a string of calamities in recent years. The public broadcaster faced a crisis of relevance forced by budget cuts to its news and prime-time programming, and was dealt a huge blow in 2013 when it lost the multimedia rights to the NHL’s hockey games and had its part in the iconic program Hockey Night in Canada scaled back.
In 2015, it also had to deal with allegations its leadership turned a blind eye to harassment in the workplace following the dismissal of Q host Jian Ghomeshi.
Yet despite these difficulties, the CBC has soldiered on with viewers, cultivating homegrown hits including the Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara comedy Schitt’s Creek, reinvigorating existing stalwarts such as Dragon’s Den with a new panel, and making acquisitions such as The Honourable Woman from the BBC.
CBC Radio One also increased its audience to record numbers across the country, according to Numeris (formerly BBM). Dwayne Winseck, a professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at Carleton University, says, “in an ever-more-complex media environment where information and opinions are plentiful, trusted journalism and insights are more valuable than ever. As an institution that provides that, people may be seeing the CBC as more important and valuable with each passing day.”
• The 10 most reputable brands in Canada
Facebook is important to both consumers and brands for building online identity. The social media giant has been building its own social currency as well, which is reflected in its rankings rise, up 29 spots to number 43.
It generated tremendous goodwill during Apple’s court battle with the U.S. Justice Department over writing code that would help the FBI unlock iPhones to government scrutiny. “Facebook came out in support of Apple, saying that they would continue to fight against requirements to weaken their security for users,” says Erin Bury, managing director at 88 Creative, a Toronto-based communications agency. “This was an important step for Facebook in the eyes of its users since the network has long been plagued by privacy concerns.”
The company also generated positive press when its paid parental leave employee program was extended to four months regardless of gender. “This positioned them as an organization that cares about the well-being of their employees. And it didn’t hurt that founder Mark Zuckerberg had his first child and took advantage of the policy in late 2015,” says Bury. (The move sparked a wider dialogue on the issue, just as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s 2013 bestseller Lean In did for women in the workplace.)
Bury says all of the above has “helped to create a more positive perception of Facebook in tech circles and beyond.”
New data from Mintel suggests consumers have been inspired by the growth of online arts and crafts communities to share and sell their own creations. Forty-five percent of those surveyed aged 30 to 39 years said they made an online sale of a craft project they made in the past 12 months. Mintel’s insights don’t end there: 55% of these millennials used online videos to learn a craft skill, two in five used YouTube, one-third browsed Pinterest and 31% conducted online searches for crafting inspiration.
In this changing retail category, national crafting chain Michaels has successfully navigated the new omnichannel age, says Ted Salter, partner at PwC Canada. He says they’ve built engagement with community and delivered that experience “in a manner which seamlessly crosses back and forth across in-store and digital channels.”
Salter offers a laundry list of programs and policies he sees as giving the retailer a leg-up: crafting events on cruises, a dedicated social media team that communicates with customers, collaborations between bloggers and product designers on private label products, its “Michaels Makers” program that integrates online and in-store classes, and giving customers a chance to have their crafts featured on its social channels.
Oil and gas giants aren’t typically known for having strong public reputations. But Petro-Canada (Suncor Energy’s consumer retail brand) has landed in Leger’s Top 100 this year.
Analysts give a lot of the credit to its ever-expanding Petro Points rewards program, which Autotrader identified last year as one of the best rewards programs in this sector, offering reward points on gas as well as convenience store purchases.
“Petro-Canada could very well be rising with respect to brand awareness and value to the quality of their rewards program,” says Nima Billou, an analyst at Veritas Investment Research Corporation.
It’s also worth nothing that Petro-Canada has been building goodwill with Canadians through its sponsorship of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. The brand runs the Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE) program, in which it financially supports 50 athletes and coach pairings each year. In the lead up to the Rio Games this summer, it has partnered with the CBC on a weekly TV and online series that will profile the recipients of the funding.