Editorial by Al McClain
According to a Gallup Poll cited in the 6-12-05 New York Times Magazine,
only eight percent of Americans trust big business "a great deal."
Here are the numbers:
There are lots of interesting things in these numbers, including the indication that none of these institutions are trusted “a great deal” by a majority of Americans, but since the retailing industry is really one giant big business, let’s take a look at that.
We spend a lot of time in these pages interpreting what the average shopper thinks and does, talking about ways to wring more efficiency out of the distribution system, and getting employees to do more work with a better attitude. Yet, for all the efforts of big business to “do better” and constantly make their quarterly numbers, one of the bottom lines is that only eight percent of Americans trust big business “a great deal.” Add that to “quite a lot” and you still only get twenty-two percent. Worse, big business ranks below Congress and TV news, and way below banks.
Could it be that for all the efforts to introduce new products, satisfy consumers, lower labor costs, satisfy employees, be more efficient, and so on, that we’re overlooking trust as something we need to work on? If consumers don’t trust you, really…what have you got? Have consumers noticed corporate big wigs going to jail, never ending line extensions that don’t really add value to peoples’ lives, constant legal and turf battles among big businesses, and poor service by airlines trying to take them somewhere? And are they just saying “we don’t trust these guys”?
Lots of big businesses do great things for lots of consumers to make their lives better. But, when big businesses as a whole are trusted just slightly more than HMOs, which are generally reviled, you know there’s a serious problem. Maybe all of us ought to work at getting our companies and industries to take a better look in the mirror, and see what we can really do to improve our relationships with consumers.
Moderator’s Comment: Are there retailers in business
today that are trusted by consumers? If yes, how is that trust demonstrated
and what did the retailer do to develop it?
Al McClain – Moderator