Brands in the gutter

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MBS Marketing expert, Dr Stuart Roper, recently appeared on BBC’s Panorama talking about his research into the impact of litter on brand reputation. The programme, ‘Our Dirty Nation’, explores the cost of cleaning up Britain’s rubbish and is presented by Journalist and Labour peer Joan Bakewell, who argues that we all need to take more pride in our surroundings. Watch it on BBC iPlayer >>

Research conducted by Dr Roper and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Professor Cathy Parker in 2006, led Keep Britain Tidy to change the way that they collected data on litter from recording by category, to recording by brand. Dr Roper’s research therefore specifically considers the damaging impact litter can have on a brand.

McDonald’s was found to be the most common brand seen as litter in the latest survey of 30 major UK towns and cities. The company’s burger wrappers and drinks cartons are more likely to be found strewn on our streets than any other fast food brand.

The research also revealed that fast food businesses could be suffering financially due to their association with litter. In experiments published in the Journal of Business Research (2013) it was demonstrated that consumers seeing a brand as litter would be less inclined to buy it and would also pay less for it.

Dr Stuart Roper said: “There is clear evidence that seeing litter with a company’s brand on it can negatively affect the publics’ perception of that brand. There is, therefore, a good commercial reason why the brands should take more of an interest in what happens to their packaging once it leaves their premises. Brands seen as litter are judged to have more negative brand personalities and consumers have a lower attitude towards the brand”.

The 2011 results from Keep Britain Tidy revealed – in terms of National Gutter Share – the most littered fast food brands in England are:

1.    McDonald’s – 13%
2.    Cadbury’s – 6%
3.    Greggs -6%
4.    Wrigley’s – 5%
5.    Coca-Cola – 5%

Dr Roper also spoke at the recent 2013 Keep Britain Tidy Network Conference on the impact and relationship of brands to litter. Read more >>

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