Hardware store favourite Bunnings has broken the ‘supermarket duopoly’, as the most trusted brands in Australia for nearly three years, overtaking Coles as the second most trusted brand in the 12 months to September 2023.
In the pre-pandemic era Bunnings was the most trusted brand in Australia and was in top spot until May 2020 when overtaken by Woolworths – which has held first place ever since.
Over the last year overall distrust in organisations and brands has grown disproportionately – the level of distrust is clearly taking Australia further into Net Distrust territory.
According to Roy Morgan CEO Michele 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.”
In contrast, Australia’s favourite hardware chain Bunnings has experienced a significant recovery in trust. From a low in the 12 months to October 2022, trust in the brand has soared -the largest absolute improvement in trust of any of the trusted brands for that period.
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.”
Australians have told us in their own words why they trust Bunnings and the hardware chain is now in a very strong position to regain the coveted title of Australia’s most trusted brand as soon as early in 2024.
“They do what they say, provide a huge range of competitive-priced products, and complaints or returns are handled fairly and promptly.”
“They are no frills, and always provide down to earth advice. They price products reasonably, and have a great range. Their staff really seem to care about customers.”
“The staff are friendly and helpful, they’re often doing things for the community and always have Saturday sausage sizzles.”
“Their staff have good knowledge and expertise when it comes to home hardware I can rely on.”
“Good price and people who know their jobs, willing to do the right thing for the customer not just the bottom dollar.”
“Equal opportunity employer, transparent pricing”
Levine notes that trust in Bunnings is highest among people aged 35+ – those most likely to be homeowners or paying off a home. Not only are these older demographics most likely to be invested in home ownership, and potential home renovations, they’re also the people who have maintained their spending power despite a series of 13 interest rate increases since May 2022.
“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,” said Levine.
“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.
“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.”
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia). Risk Monitor, 12 month average to September 2023. Base: Australians 14+, n=25,863. Arrows with numbers show ranking change since June 2023.Green shading highlights ranking improvements for trusted brands, red shading highlights ranking deterioration for distrusted brands.
The most trusted brands are still dominated by major retailers, with supermarkets filling three of the top four spots with Woolworths (1st), Coles (3rd) and ALDI (4th) joined by the soaring Bunnings in 2nd place and Kmart once again rounding out the top five most trusted brands in fifth place.
Myer and Toyota were two other leading brands to improve their positions in the top ten in the most recent rankings with department store Myer boosting it’s ranking to seventh overall while leading automotive manufacturer Toyota increased two places to eighth.
Other brands to improve their rankings as some of the most trusted brands in Australia include NRMA, up two places to 11th overall, the ABC, up three places to 15th overall and ING, up one place to 18th.
Telecommunications company Optus remains the most distrusted brand in Australia – even before the recent data outage in early November 2023 which eventually led to the ouster of former CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin soon after.
Other familiar names near the top of the most distrusted brands include social media giant (and former and long-standing most distrusted brand) Facebook/Meta, embattled airline Qantas, private health insurer Medibank and retail giant Harvey Norman. All four have faced significant scandals in recent years including content policies and moderation, widespread data breaches and allegations of profiteering.
There are also several well-known tech and social media companies in the top ten most distrusted brands including retailing behemoth Amazon and controversial social media companies TikTok and Twitter/X.
Roy Morgan’s CEO, Michele Levine, says: “Risk assessments and procedures by executives and company directors across all industries need to formally factor-in distrust. 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. 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.”