Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Do consumers care about company ownership?

John Lewis and The Co-op are highlighting the fact that they are owned by their staff. But does having a stake in a business improve customer service, and do consumers care who holds the shares?


NO. Consumers really don't care about the profit-share opportunities of the person serving them. We are a nation of self-obsessed cynics and all we really care about is what price we are paying and the level of service we are receiving.

Communicating service initiatives with clear consumer benefits is much more effective. When Tesco announced that it would open another till if queues were getting too long, it did not link this fact to the workforce pulling together in the quest for improved performance. It is what staff do that is important, not the reasons behind their actions. Collective corporate ownership is laudable, but it is not a relevant communication strategy.


MAYBE. If you can show that ownership plays a part in motivating service, then do so. But consumers must see what's in it for them. Value is key.

Whoever owns the key to the retail door, you're only as good as your customers' experience. In that sense, every workforce holds the power, because they own the experience.

Consumers own the brand, though, and they need to know they made the right choice. Their experience must be authentic. If it is enhanced because the people serving them are inspired to give their all in 'their own shop', then by all means celebrate that. But brands succeed if they can motivate staff to take pride in what they do, regardless of ownership.


YES. Consumers care about a company's organisation and its social and ethical track record, and they care about the quality of the service they receive.

Putting employees in marketing campaigns isn't new, and it's meaningless unless it is underpinned by genuine concern for people's welfare.

Employees who are partners are, by definition, committed, with a genuine interest in looking after the customers.

Only an engaged and motivated workforce that puts customers' needs first generates true customer loyalty.


NO. But it is more pertinent to ask what effect promoting your ownership structure has on the business.

Although it is true that consumers may not put company structure at the top of their most-wanted list, they care about customer service. All retailers need their staff to live and breathe the brand; the more enthused they are about it, the better. A campaign that focuses on staff ownership can only help them love the brand more.

Staff pride is even more important when there is a recession approaching. Retailers will need to use every trick at their disposal to hit their targets.

I think this a smart strategy in the current economic climate.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad
Powerade launches global World Cup campaign
Burberry's flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes
Subway considers taking fast food to fast lane with F1 sponsorship
Ikea splurges 'grey' Belgium with colour
Grim outlook for Tesco boss Philip Clarke ahead of expected profits fall
Thomson to create first crowd-sourced wedding decided by Facebook fans
Currency wars meets origami in Alpari FX trading ad campaign
Amazon rumoured to launch 3D smartphone in September
Facebook to allow European users to store and transfer money on site, claims report
Unilever pilots multi-brand advertising with YouTube beauty channel
Lego, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter, Bitcoin and AOL: the digitally creative brands
Dove tries to tell women their beauty is innate through placebo patches
Wonga faces social media storm after forcing Twitter to remove satirical material
Spotify tells the stories of relationships with music
Skype contrasts real stories with 'saccharine' style of Google and Apple
Top 100 UK advertisers: BSkyB increases lead as P&G, BT and Unilever reduce adspend
Viral Review: One Direction perfume 'prankvert' should have been a bigger hit
German beer brand Warsteiner tells drinkers to 'do it right'
SSE signs 10 year deal to sponsor Wembley Arena
Co-op bank posts losses of £1.3bn and expects no profits for two years
Morrisons digital boss Simon Harrow to leave the business
Tesco boss Philip Clarke backs CMO Matt Atkinson's 'enormous contribution' to brand