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?

ADAM LEIGH, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, THE COMMUNICATIONS AGENCY

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.

CHRISTIAN CULL, DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER COMMUNICATIONS, BSKYB

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.

SALLY COWDRY, MARKETING DIRECTOR, O2 UK

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.

RICHARD PIERSON, HEAD OF NEW BUSINESS, BARTLE BOGLE HEGARTY

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.

Discussion

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

Latest

Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage