Image: ASOS Image: ASOS

Online fashion giant ASOS is ranked as the most reputable fashion retailer by UK consumers, a new study has found.

Laura Ashley and Debenhams follow closely behind in the rankings, both securing strong reputations from British shoppers.

Retailers were each ranked with a score of 0-100 using the RepTrak® system and placed into five different categories: Excellent, Strong, Average, Weak or Poor.

Based on 5,000 interviews with the UK general public, seven key dimensions of reputation were also measured, including products and services, innovation, workplace, citizenship and leadership, governance and performance.

The research by Reputation Institute found the perception of fashion retailers amongst the UK public is generally positive, with ten overall achieving ‘strong’ reputations.

High-flyer ASOS broke into the ‘excellent’ category, achieving an overall RepTrak® score of 80.4. The highest scores for the online retailer were in innovation and leadership and perceptions of citizenship, which is an area other retailers have fallen short in.

Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, said: “It is intriguing that an online only retailer has achieved a stronger reputation than the old high-street favorites.

“This not only reflects the shift in shopping habits of the UK general public, but it also underlines the point, that you can build a high degree of trust, respect, and admiration without the face to face experience.”

“With only one retailer breaking through the ‘excellent’ barrier, many within the sector need to do more to cement and build upon their reputations. Businesses can gain further goodwill with the public by defining and further demonstrating responsible business behaviour and corporate citizenship.”

Primark, sitting at the bottom of the ranking, has the weakest scores for the citizenship and governance dimensions of reputation (49.4 and 46.2 out of 100 respectively), suggesting unethical supply chain practices have heavily impacted the consumer psyche.

Mr. Nielsen said: “We know that Primark has had some challenging reputational issues in recent years, and it is interesting to see that this perception still lingers despite their efforts to regain ground.

“As in other sectors, the reputation of any company is as strong as the public’s trust in its corporate narrative, and once this trust is tainted it can take time to rebuild.”

Why is reputation so important?

The study highlights how the reputation of a business can drive business results, as only 12% of consumers would definitely buy products from companies with an average reputation. This climbs to 28% if the reputation is strong and increases to 76% if the reputation is excellent.

High-street store New Look failed to achieve more than an overall reputation score of average and have experienced a steady reputational decline since 2013. This may be an effect of the recent media outcry reacting to children’s clothing promoting poor body image.

50 per cent of those surveyed said they would have to consider the company’s reputation as ‘Excellent’ before saying something positive about it or recommending its products, according to the study.

It was also found that an excellent score would encourage consumers to trust the retailer to do the right thing, welcome it into the local community, and work for or invest in it.

A study from the PRCA revealed last year that a company’s reputation is one of the top three most important factors for Britons when it comes to seeking new employment.

Mr. Nielsen added: “The impact reputation has on business success is massive, which is why the leading companies in the world are managing this asset in a systematic way.”