People think businesses put profits ahead of consumer needs

25 February 2015

loadsamoneyDo you believe businesses have your best interests as a consumer at heart? If you don’t, you’re not alone, as a new CBI poll has found than more than seven in ten of us believe businesses abuse our trust and sacrifice loyalty for a quick return. ‘Profit’ is, apparently, being used “like a dirty word” by the majority of consumers.

The YouGov poll of more than 2,000 UK adults for the CBI’s trust-in-business campaign found that 72% of respondents believed businesses put profit before the needs of consumers, and 66% said that “businesses put profit before the wellbeing of their workforces”.

But are most of us living in some kind of cloud cuckoo land? Far from being a dirty word, profits are essential to the successful and continued running of a business. Interestingly, 70% of those surveyed also said profits were a “good thing”. It seems businesses are stuck between a rock and a hard place of making profits while also taking excellent care of consumers, even if this would adversely affect profits. But perhaps this is not an impossible dream- some of the most successful UK brands at the moment are those, like John Lewis, who are recognised as ‘consumer-friendly’ brands. However, it seems much of the issue surrounds trust- we don’t mind businesses making profits so long as they do it in the right way (with boycott favourites Starbucks and Amazon clearly not doing things the ‘right’ way), with more than three quarters of survey respondents saying they want businesses to “be more transparent” about how they earn their profits.

Katja Hall, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said: “Despite support for profits as a ‘good thing’, they continue to be demonised widely. We need to recalibrate this debate.”

Which!!! executive director, Richard Lloyd, said, insightfully: “Successful businesses know that by giving people the products and service they want, at a fair price, they’ll have happy customers who are more likely to stay loyal. But firms harm their own reputation and damage trust in their industry when they neglect the basics and fail to put the customer first.”

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice   Economy

1 comment

  • Dan
    It is an interesting dilemma... those business that tend to be lauded as having good customer service are also the ones that are a little more expensive than others. John Lewis / Waitrose, Apple, Marks & Spencer, etc... Time is money and the more time that a company spends with the customer providing good customer service, the less profit they make or the more they have to charge. Amazon can be in the bad books because of tax and also because of perceptions of how they treat their employees (videos of people running round warehouses etc.) Starbucks because of tax.

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