To understand the underlying trends that impact the reputation economy, we dug into our extensive RepTrak database for new insights from our latest Reputation Leaders Study. From there, we identified the leading global macro-trends that C-suite execs can apply to their company to help them win on reputation. Market influencers and their potential effect on reputation have earned the No. 3 spot on our list.
Market influencers—ordinary people with extraordinary influence—are leading indicators of reputation, the harbingers of what’s to come. An influencer can be anyone who is passionate about key industry topics, and can be the spark that creates a movement.
Who are market influencers?
Market influencers are highly engaged in sharing their thoughts via multiple outlets and come across as both knowledgeable and genuine in their messaging. They reside within the general population and spring to action to create or facilitate a movement pertaining to issues they care deeply about.
Contrary to popular belief, market influencers do not have to be celebrities to have a big reach or impact. For example, while one of Emirates Airlines’ partnerships with Jennifer Aniston has garnered over 5 million views at a cost of 25 million Euros, a popular blogger by the name of “Sconosciuto” published similar testimonials and received 50 million views—with no cost to the airline.
Market influencers play a critical role in shaping companies’ reputations. They have the ability to amplify a company’s reputation—both positively and negatively. Global companies with a weak overall reputation score receive a lower rating from market influencers, while reputable ones rank even higher.
Example: Credibility challenge for Volkswagen
The Volkswagen emissions scandal is an example of how market influencers can have a significant impact on the fate of a company. In 2015, Volkswagen was exposed by engineer John German for using illicit devices to skew emissions test results for their diesel-powered vehicles. His actions triggered EPA investigations and ultimately resulted in heavy fines for the automaker and—not surprisingly—a steep decline in reputation from which VW has still not fully recovered.
What executives need to remember
Influence the influencers.
Market influencers enhance company perceptions - winning their hearts and minds yields a significant and disproportionately positive return on reputation.
What steps can your company's leadership team take to manage these reputation macro-trends?