Regulated industries and the power of public opinion

Communicators intent on building their organisation’s reputation and protecting its licence to operate, need to be attuned to the shifting tides of public opinion to help manage risk and maximise opportunity.

The author(s)

  • Mike Granleese Research Director
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Although the public do not set regulation, their influence over policy makers is clear. Communicators intent on building their organisation’s reputation and protecting its licence to operate, need to be attuned to the shifting tides of public opinion to help manage risk and maximise opportunity. Considering this, recent data collected by Ipsos Global Advisor on public attitudes to various regulated industries across 29 countries, reveals some telling findings regarding the challenges facing some sectors.

  • More global consumers now feel that the sale of sugary soft drinks should be prohibited compared with beer and wine. This is despite the study covering some markets where the sale of alcohol is either illegal or heavily restricted.
  • Despite medical research suggesting that e-cigarettes are less harmful than actual cigarettes, there is little difference in public attitudes towards access to both.
  • Over half of global consumers feel access to social media should be limited to those aged 18+ or prohibited entirely.
Graph showing: who should have access to, buy or use products and services

 

Looking ahead to the future of these industries, it is notable that in all cases the public feel that access and usage to different vices will continue to grow. For example, despite there being a decline in drinking worldwide, the public believe that consumption of beer, wine and liquor will increase in the future. This may highlight a degree of public cynicism about the ability for individuals and industries to self-regulate, leading to a sense that consumption of vices will grow even when evidence and behavioural trends indicate otherwise.

For communicators, the challenges are multiple – how can you ensure that actions taken by industries to encourage responsible consumption are being heard by the public, and how can you position your sector so that it is not in the firing line when public pressure for increased regulation tips over into political action. Central to addressing these challenges is an understanding of how public attitudes vary across the world, leading to a more accurate assessment of the countries that pose the greatest risk and more effective investment of scarce communications resources.

Graph shows: future trends

 

Equally, in which markets do organisations need to be proactive in shaping opinion and behaviour by adjusting the options available to consumers (e.g. more healthy products) and in which markets would this be ill-advised. Experience shows that organisations which address these challenges with a localised approach are most effective at building reputation and protecting license to operate.

If you would be interested in exploring the country variations and additional detail that were covered in our recent study of vice industries, please contact the Ipsos Corporate Reputation team at reputation@ipsos.com - and we would be happy to take you through the findings.

Methodology note: The findings come from surveys conducted using the Ipsos online panel system with 18,638 adults across 29 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the U.S.

 

The author(s)

  • Mike Granleese Research Director

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