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HONG KONG, May 28, 2014 –The Chinese view their leaders with much more optimism than any other markets in the world and are more confident in their leaders’ ability to lead over the next 12 months, according to the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM). The global study, which polled 6,509 people in 13 countries across five continents, including China, provides insight into consumer views on effective leadership, effective communications and the link between the two.

This year’s study reveals that a global leadership “crisis” stubbornly persistsas people continue to be disillusioned with their leaders. Looking at leaders in business, government, community service, trade/labor unions and the not-for-profit sector, only 22 percent of those surveyed believe leaders are demonstrating effective leadership – down from 25 percent last year – with just 13 percent scoring leaders strongly on accountability when things go wrong. Additionally, less than a third (30 percent) believe that leadership is based on clear values and just 17 percent are optimistic about seeing any improvement in leadership over the coming year.

In comparison with other respondents around the world, the Chinese are much more likely than the rest of the world to consider that their business leaders are effective (50 percent vs 29 percent globally). By contrast, Spain (14 percent) and France (14 percent) are the most pessimistic about business leaders. In China, the confidence in leaders’ ability to lead over the coming year is much higher than other markets (31 percent vs 17 percent globally). In some European markets, confidence is as low as 8 percent (UK, Spain).

“The survey results clearly demonstrate that despite the ongoing leadership crisis worldwide, business leaders in China are positively perceived as leading the way on effective leadership,” said Sean Fitzgerald, partner, executive vice president Ketchum Greater China. “While leaders in specific sectors may face challenges in China, overall we continue to see that good leadership behavior has proven to influence not only perceptions, but also impact Chinese consumption of products and services. Examples include Jack Ma of Alibaba, Yang Yuanqing of Lenovo, Pony Ma of Tencent and Robin Li of Baidu.”

Leadership Communications Influences the Bottom Line

As with previous years, the research finds that open, transparent communication is the top ranking attribute for effective leadership. 79 percent of Chinese view it very important to great leadership, slightly higher than global findings of 74 percent. But at the same time, only 44 percent of Chinese believe leaders communicate effectively, with a 35-point gap between expectation and delivery.

This gap has enormous commercial implications. A clear majority of respondents, both within China (59 percent) and globally (61 percent), boycotted or bought less from a company during the past 12 months due to poor leadership. Far fewer started buying or purchased more as a result of positive leadership perceptions.

Leadership Communication and Purchasing Behaviors

Commercial Responses to Leadership Communication % that have done this globally
Stop purchasing or purchase less of a company's products and services as a result of poor leadership perceptions 61%
Start purchasing or purchase more of a company's products and services for the first time as a result of positive leadership perceptions 52%

The Rise of the Leadership eVangelist

A key element of the leadership crisis revealed in the KLCM has been the rise of the “Leadership eVangelist” – a specific and vocal sub-set of consumers who have a disproportionate impact on commercial outcomes. Powered by the advent of social media, the eVangelists regularly debate leadership with friends, family and others online and emphatically recommend or criticize companies. They make up a mere 8 percent of the global population and yet their influence is much more far-reaching.

This group is likely to be much more supportive from a purchasing perspective when impressed with leadership and also more aggressively negative when unimpressed.

eVangelists’ Purchasing Behaviors

eVangelists’ Commercial Responses to Leadership eVangelists General Population
Purchase less of a company’s products due to poor leadership 67% 50%
Stop purchasing a company’s products due to poor leadership 66% 45%
Start purchasing a company’s products due to good leadership 62% 44%
Purchase more of a company’s products due to good leadership 58% 37%

Fitzgerald added, “The Leadership eVangelists are a vocal but highly influential minority. They are hidden in plain sight, open-minded, but have strong power in driving the demand we are seeing for a fundamental shift in leadership. This group of people tends to perceive companies and leaders far more positively when they believe that they have been genuinely engaged and heard. But at the same time, they can penalize those commercially if they are not heard. Purchasing habits still have a close linkage with leadership perceptions and communication – the better a leader communicates and is perceived, the better the corporate performance and sales will be, and vice versa.”

The KLCM Global Disillusionment Index and Global Industry Leadership Index

This year marks the launch of two new global indices based on KLCM’s findings. These benchmarks examine how “disillusioned” consumers are with their leaders on a country-by-country level, as well as which industries are the most respected.

The KLCM Global Disillusionment Index pooled all of the global data collected across leadership, communication, confidence in leaders, accountability, meeting expectations and values on a country-by-country basis. Asian countries faired the best topping the list. China has the most confidence in their leaders (181), followed by India (167) and Singapore (112).The Spanish (55) were most disillusioned with their leaders – with European countries taking five of the bottom six slots.

Looking at leadership from an industry perspective and combining data on leadership, communication, accountability and meeting expectations, the KLCM Global Industry Leadership Index shows that the technology industry (153) ranked top on every measure, with banking (36) rounding out the bottom of the list. Separately, the Chinese view leaders in the technology sector are setting a good examples in effective leadership (56 percent vs 52 percent globally), with trustworthiness, innovation, and quality of management being the key attributes that keep them on top of the list.

Visit http://www.ketchum.com/leadership-communication-monitor-2014 for additional survey information and materials.

About the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor

Ketchum Global Research & Analytics conducted an online survey of 6,509 respondents in 13 markets from Jan. 10 to 31, 2014. These markets included the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, China, Italy, Singapore, India, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Brazil. The global margin of error is +/-1.3 percent. The research explored respondents’ views of both different categories of leader (business, political, community, non-profit and union/labor organization) and of 19 vertical industries. All data collection was handled by Ipsos Observer.

About Ketchum

Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. The winner of 11 Cannes Lions and an unprecedented four PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc., visit www.ketchum.com.

About Diversified Agency Services

Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), manages Omnicom's holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

About

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, with offices in 84 countries. Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research and survey management.

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