Our gripe with the Reader's Digest most trusted NZ brands survey

Updated: May 8, 2020

Whittaker's has been named the Most Trusted of All Brands in the annual 2020 Reader's Digest Survey - but is one of very few that are actually NZ owned.

Whittaker’s has been voted by New Zealanders as the Most Trusted of all Brands in the annual 2020 Reader’s Digest survey. It’s the ninth consecutive year the iconic chocolate brand has won the overall title.

While the accolade is certainly something to be proud of, wouldn't it be nice to have a survey that focuses purely on brands and businesses that are fully New Zealand owned and operated?

The survey, which generates blanket coverage across our media every year is organised by the Australasian arm of Reader's Digest, a business that is run out of Sydney and doesn't appear to have anybody on the ground here in New Zealand. The survey is carried out by an Australian market research company.

As a brief aside, the survey only gathers the opinions of 1606 Kiwis - 0.03% of New Zealand's 4.8 million population. The numbers seem too low to provide a wholly reliable view on what a country thinks about anything but we are happy to be corrected.

A glance through the 2020 list of most trusted brands turns up some familiar brands but many of them are huge global entities. Breville, Bosh, Samsung, Persil, Specsavers and Head & Shoulders to name but a handful.

Sadly, when you spot the names that are more closely tied to New Zealand, and do a little digging, you realise that the majority of them are now about as Kiwi as Yamaha and Nivea. Ok. Maybe a little harsh - but can they still be regarded as true New Zealand businesses when a fat chunk of their profits are heading overseas? A few that you might not have realised have flown the nest include:

Griffins - The much loved biscuit maker was founded by John Griffin in Nelson in 1864, but has since been sold more times than you can count. The business, which also includes the Nice & Natural brand, is currently owned by Universal Robina, based in the Philippines.

Fisher & Paykel - Fisher & Paykel started in New Zealand in the 1930s when Olive Paykel asked her husband to import a new appliance - a refrigerator. However, it was sold to Haier Group in 2012 - a gigantic organisation based in Qingdao, China.

Bay Audiology - The New Zealand arm of Bay was sold in 2009 to Australian private equity group, Crescent Capital Partners for a juicy $158 million.

We are delighted to see some 100% New Zealand owned companies gaining recognition in this year's line-up, such as Kiwibank, Mainland, Sanitarium, Cavalier Bremworth and Lisa's Hummus. But these are few and far between.

Perhaps, it doesn't matter and we're making a mountain out of a molehill - and, of course, there are certain categories where New Zealand owned brands simply aren't present. Car manufacturing, for example. But there is just something about it that doesn't sit quite right with us.

Do we need our own separate survey that is run by a New Zealand market researcher, preferably with much higher participation, focusing purely on brands that are Kiwi made and owned? Is this already covered by our existing business awards and other celebrations that take place throughout the year?

Answers on a postcard please! Failing that, you can email us at editor@oobymag.co.nz or chat with us on Facebook or Instagram.

For the full Trusted Brands survey results see trustedbrands.co.nz.


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