Lights out on utilities’ reputation

June 12, 2013, 2:22 PM GMT+0

More than six (62%) in ten consumers think the utilities companies have a bad reputation, research from YouGov shows.

When asked to choose which industries had a poor standing in the eyes of the public, utilities companies came behind only the banking industry (73%). Government departments (57%), gambling companies (55%) and local councils (44%) all came below utilities companies in terms of public ire.

The research shows the reputational challenges facing the sector in light of negative publicity surrounding increased bills and rising profits. 5% think utilities companies’ reputations are getting better compared to 7% who feel the same about the banking industry. Furthermore, 6% think utilities companies have high ethical and moral standards, placing them marginally ahead of insurance companies (5%) and gambling firms (4%).

The public also think the utilities industry is bad for the recovery, albeit on a lesser scale than the financial and public sectors. More than one in five (22%) think utilities companies they are currently holding back UK economic growth, compared to almost half (48%) who say the same of banks and the four in ten (41%) that believe it of government departments.

Tom Powell, Associate Director at YouGov, says: “While not quite in the same league as the banks, the utilities companies’ reputations have still taken a severe hit in these tight economic times. The most surprising finding is that fully a fifth of consumers think that gas and electricity companies are holding back the economic recovery. If they are to improve their esteem in the eyes of the public they will have to shift the needle on this considerably.”