Royal Mail's reputation going strong despite privatisation talks

Chris PolechonskiSenior Research Executive Digital, Media and Technology
July 12, 2013, 3:13 PM GMT+0

This week Vince Cable announced that Royal Mail workers are to get free shares when the state-owned corporation is privatised through a stock market flotation in the autumn. Whilst 10% of shares have been set aside for Royal Mail staff, unions have reacted angrily to the privatisation plans and have threatened to ballot for strike action.

Using YouGov’s social media analysis tool, SoMA, we can see how much conversation this issue is generating on Twitter, and can compare this to the amount of attention received when Royal Mail announced soaring profits at the end of May.

As we can see from previous analysis, on 21 May, when Royal Mail’s profits were announced, there was a spike in Twitter activity, with 26.2% of the UK Twitter population hearing something about the brand that day. Compare this to Twitter reach on 10 July, when news of free shares for staff was announced, and we can see that 45.9% heard something about Royal Mail – almost double that of 21 May.

In terms of what was heard, we can see that this announcement reignited the debate about privatisation on Twitter, with 27.1% of people hearing the word ‘privatisation’ in relation to Royal Mail on 10 July. Other popular words that were heard include ‘shares’, ‘sell’ and ‘cable’.

Recent polling from YouGov found that two-thirds of the British public are opposed to the privatisation of the Royal Mail. Looking to BrandIndex, YouGov’s brand perception analysis tool, we can evaluate how consumers feel about Royal Mail.

Using Royal Mail’s Index score, which brings together six key brand attributes (including quality, value and satisfaction), we can see a steady rise over the last ten months, from an Index score of about +19 up to the +21 mark. Following the announcement of Royal Mail’s high profits on 21 May there is a sudden increase in the company’s index score, from +19.9 on this day to a peak of +24.1 nearly a month later, on 15 June. The score remained just below this mark on 10 July (+21.5).

These improved scores are bolstered by the revelation this week that Royal Mail was one of the most improved brands in BrandIndex’s Mid-Year Review, second only to the London Underground. Royal Mail’s Buzz score, which measures whether consumers have heard something positive versus something negative about a brand, has improved 8.9% over the first half of the year

Again, it will be interesting to continue to monitor customer perceptions of Royal Mail to see whether these scores will continue to improve or start to diminish in the lead up to its privatisation.

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