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11% embarrassed to work for Asos, as high street brands score highly on ESG while online retailers come bottom

Consumers rate the Great British high street highly when it comes to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, according to new research from The MISSION Group…. View Article


11% embarrassed to work for Asos, as high street brands score highly on ESG while online retailers come bottom

Consumers rate the Great British high street highly when it comes to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues, according to new research from The MISSION Group. Meanwhile perceptions of leading online retailers lag the high street on ESG principles and lie at the bottom of the rankings.

Eight of the top ten ESG rankings are high street retailers including Marks and Spencer, Waterstones, Screwfix, John Lewis, Boots, B&Q, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, according to MISSION Group’s new proprietary tool, the MISSION Brand Bonding Index (MBBI) which includes a YouGov survey of 3,000 respondents*. At the same time, online retailers, ASOS and Wish find themselves in the bottom ten on ESG.

The MBBI is a bi-annual index which currently covers 120 brands, from global corporates to UK household brands. The index includes 39,600 data points, as well as 12 source categories, working with BrandWatch and YouGov.

Marks and Spencer is trusted to do the right thing by 50% of consumers and 66% have a positive impression of the brand while only 3% trust Wish to do the right thing and only 4% have a positive impression of the online retailer. Equally, 24% of respondents would be proud to work for Waterstones while 11% would be embarrassed to work for ASOS.

Screwfix also ranks highly with 45% trusting the brand to do the right thing and 56% having a positive impression of the company, where 27% would be proud to work. This comes in contrast to – only 4% have a positive impression, 3% trust the company to do the right thing and 25% trust it not to do the right thing, while 20% would be embarrassed to work there.

The triumph of perception for high street brands is testament to their customer service and the tangible elements of their ESG strategies, despite widely reported challenges in the past. Prominent branding of sustainable products and promotion of their efforts to support the environment play a big role in convincing consumers that the brands are doing the right thing, which we know is important to consumers – recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by WWF showed a 71% rise in online searches for sustainable goods globally over the past five years.

This is harder for online retailers who suffer from reputational problems across their supply chains despite efforts to use more sustainable products and ethical sourcing processes even though they feature sustainability strategies prominently on their websites. ASOS and are also challenged by fast fashion’s reputation for disposable items that don’t fit the sustainability agenda and create scepticism about their brand images.

Kelly Pepworth, MD Speed Communications & ESG Champion at The MISSION Group plc, commented:

“It’s heartening to see key brands on the Great British high street leading the way on ESG perceptions. They are visible in their efforts to support sustainability whether through the prominent labelling of goods, ethical supply chains or their broader communications. They are a clear example of brands walking the talk and the positive impact this has on consumer perception.

“While consumers may still flock to companies such as ASOS, and Wish they are skeptical over their commitment to ESG principles. and ASOS have made very public commitments to responsible fashion, but it might be too little too late. Unless they make it a more prominent part of their branding and improve their message penetration, consumers might start to rethink fast fashion and opt for higher quality items that have a more sustainable lifespan.

“Perception is everything and the battle for authentic sustainable branding relies on sustained efforts to demonstrate credentials. Brands need to live their ESG commitments not just talk about them. It is this that will win over skeptical consumers.”

MISSION launched the MBBI to give companies immediate bespoke insight into their real brand power and actionable intelligence on comparison with competitors.

Brands can track their strengths and weaknesses with comprehensive analytics, to measure impact and accurately target areas of challenge and opportunity. The index measures a broad range of categories, including awareness, dependency, ESG, preference and purpose, utilising the most comprehensive data set of any brand index available and a bespoke algorithm.

The MBBI covers a broad range of sectors including: DIY, Fashion, Grocery, Home, Online, Online Retail, Retail, Technology and Utilities. The MBBI is available at:

*YouGov omnibus of 3,000 respondents conducted in July 2021

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