Consumers want British business owners to be more “visible and engaged”

New report highlights importance of self-promotion as consumers call for more high-profile CEOs and business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson...

British consumers increasingly want more exposure to business founders and CEOs and want to see more high-profile business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson and Sir Martin Sorrell, according to a new report by Brands2Life.

The CEO Uncovered report found that 61% of consumers believe it is now more important than ever for CEOs to be “visible and engaged”, particularly on social media channels.

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Among the top traits listed for founders and CEOs, consumers said CEOs should meet and great customers (22% of consumers), should “seem like a real person” (21%), should “be interesting when they talk” (18%), and should not be afraid to speak their mind in public (20%).

The top rated trait for business owners among consumers was “appearing to be interested in what staff and customers think”, as highlighted by 48% of consumers.

25% of consumers said the the public image of the CEO actually influences their decision to purchase a product or service. On the flip side, 23% of consumers polled said they had stopped buying a product because of the image of the CEO – and this figure rose to 34% of those aged between 18-34 years old.

Demonstrating the growing importance for British business owners to self-promote and create a brand for themselves as the entrepreneur, the report argued that it is the “British reserve that holds CEOs back” from self-promotion.

In the report, Telefonica UK chief executive, Ronan Dunne, makes the following point:

“I think it is down to the CEO to take the initiative if he feels his profile should be higher. Of course he should take advice but he should take responsibility for driving his own profile particularly through social channels.

“Social media now affords a consumer-facing business the opportunity to interface directly with the consumer and the new generation of millennials, the screenagers, expect us to engage. They want to know what the business stands for and social media helps us do this.”

When it came to why there aren’t more high-profile British CEOs, Mangement Today editor Matthew Gwyther, said it was down to: “Anxiety, worry that they’ll get it wrong. It’s once-bitten, twice-shy – the media in this country aren’t that accommodating.”

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