TORONTO—Canadians may feel sentimental about homegrown brands, but they trust and respect them less than the global giants, a survey has found.
Only six of the top 60 multinational brands, as chosen by Canadians, are Canadian, and the highest-rated Canadian company on the list, Quebec pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group, only managed to reach 29th place.
Tim Hortons ranked 30th, WestJet 54th, Shoppers Drug Mart 55th, Bombardier Inc. 57th, and Canadian Tire finished in 60th place.
“In general, Canadian companies received lower scores this year than last,” noted the report by international research and consulting firm Reputation Institute.
Jeannette Hanna, vice president of Trajectory, Reputation Institute’s Canadian partner, said these results reinforce the idea that it takes more than being homegrown to earn support and respect.
“Canadian brands have to compete in an international marketplace even in [their] own backyard,” she said.
In some cases, the poor showing of Canadian companies is simply due to their lack of dominance and “marketing muscle” in certain industries, Hanna said. However, their general decline in ranking is significant.
Despite its recent struggles, Japanese electronics firm Sony Corp. topped the list of the world’s 60 most reputable companies, according to the Canadian poll.
This “goes to show it takes more than a bad year or two to dent a reputation forged over decades,” the report said, adding that Sony’s operational and financial troubles point to an inability to “harness enormous brand equity.”
Canadian brands have to compete in an international marketplace even in [their] own backyard.
—Jeannette Hanna, Vice President, Trajectory
BlackBerry maker’s plummet
Ironically, in the survey’s second part, which ranks only Canadian companies, homegrown technology company Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) did not receive similar forgiveness. A former fixture in the top 10 and last year’s No. 5, RIM has dropped off the “Canada’s Top 30” list entirely, coming in at No. 38.
“Financially it’s been a terrible year for the company, and its brand has clearly suffered too,” the report said.
Hanna called RIM’s plummet “really dramatic and significant.” The nosedive in ranking is not just based on market sales, but also on reputation, she said.
Hanna believed that Canadians do want RIM to succeed, and for a while they continued to believe in a turnaround. But disappointing quarterly results, continued loss in market share, and the delay of RIM’s crucial BlackBerry 10 model has caused many Canadians to give up on the brand.
However, if RIM has a good quarter in the future, Hanna expects its reputation to bounce back more quickly in Canada than overseas because of Canadians’ support for the BlackBerry maker.
Canadian and global views differ
The survey also found that Canadians’ most trusted and respected multinational brands differed from the international perspective, with only three of Canada’s top 10 (Sony, Disney, and Mercedes) overlapping with the 10 best global scorers.
It takes more than a bad year or two to dent a reputation forged over decades.
—Reputation Institute on Sony
Apple Inc., for instance, is ranked No. 5 globally, but lumbers in at No. 26 for Canadians, 11 places after rival Microsoft Corp.
“It’s an interesting reversal. Once viewed as ruthless and unfriendly, Microsoft is now associated with Bill Gates’s global philanthropy, while Apple, with Steve Jobs gone, has lost its entrepreneurial narrative,” the report said.
With files from Matthew Little
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