Bunnings overtakes Coles in brand trust, Optus takes last place again

For the first time in nearly three years, Bunnings has broken the ‘supermarket duopoly’ on Roy Morgan’s Trusted Brand list, with the hardware store overtaking Coles in second place. Meanwhile, Optus remains Australia’s most distrusted brand.

Pre-pandemic, Bunnings was the most trusted brand according to Roy Morgan, sitting in top spot until May 2020, before being overtaken by Woolies – which has held the top spot since.

Over the last year (12 months to September 2023), overall distrust in brands has grown disproportionally, according to Roy Morgan CEO, Michelle Levine.

“As cost-of-living pressures deepen, this trend only gets worse as much of corporate Australia, from banks and airlines to supermarkets and utilities, are viewed by some as greedy and profiteering; Australians feel their wallets are shrinking while companies and executives are getting richer,” she said.

However, Bunnings has experienced a significant recovery, with the largest absolute improvement in trust since October 2022.

“They do what they say”, “The staff are friendly and helpful” and “Good price and people who know their jobs” are some of the ways Australians describe the brand, demonstrating its position in market.

The hardware store won Roy Morgan’s Trusted Brand Awards in the retail category earlier this year, while Woolworths won the supermarket category.

Levine said: “Bunnings has harnessed many of the foundational pillars of a trusted brand including great customer service, communicating what it stands for and delivering, being an active part of the community, solving customer’s problems and expertise and product knowledge.

“The focus Bunnings puts on delivering great customer service matched with excellent product knowledge and a huge range of hardware items at competitive prices are key factors in the soaring levels of trust for the company over the last year.”

Bunnings’ brand trust was strongest among people aged 35+ – those most likely to be homeowners of paying off a home. According to Levine, not only are these older demographics most likely to be invest in home ownership, and potential home renovations, they are also the people who have maintained their spending power despite the cost of living pressures.

“As many Australians face rising cost of living pressures driven by high inflation, and a record setting series of interest rate increases, the reputation Bunnings has built over many years is paying off,” she commented.

“Many other prominent retailers are dealing with perceptions that they are ‘price-gouging’ and taking advantage of the current environment to raise their prices above the rate of inflation – but these issues are having only a minimal impact on Australia’s favourite hardware chain.”

Roy Morgan’s most trusted and distrusted brands [Click to enlarge]

Myer and Toyota were among other leading brands in the top 10, sitting alongside Apple, Big W and Australia Post.

NRMA, the ABC and ING all improved their rankings this year, up two places to 11th, three places to 15th and one place to 18th, respectively.

On the flip side, Optus has remained Australia’s most distrusted brand, with Facebook/Meta, Qantas, Medibank and Harvey Norman joining it at the bottom. Amazon, TikTok and X/Twitter also sit in the 10 most distrusted brands list.

Even before its data outage last month, and resignation of CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the telecommunications giant was bottom of the list, according to Levine.

“Risk assessments and procedures by executives and company directors across all industries need to formally factor-in distrust,” she said.

“The flow-on effects from the extensive service outage at Optus in early November have provided a salutary reminder that dealing with distrust should be on the risk register of every board in Australia.

“Distrusted brands have felt the negative consequences of taking ‘business as usual’ for granted,” Levine said.

“These brands have been directly impacted by lax standards and not guarding properly against the potential for mistakes and errors to quickly metastasise into brand-defining events that destroy company value built up over many years in an instant.”


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