Supermarket, Hospital Industries Most Trusted

December 3, 2010

The supermarket and hospital industries have the most general consumer trust among 17 different industries covered in a recent Harris Poll.

Supermarkets, Hospitals Top Trust List

harris-trusted-industries-2003-2010-dec10.gifAlthough the percentage of US consumers saying they trust supermarkets has dropped seven percentage points from 36% in 2009 to 29% in 2010, the supermarket industry is still tied with the hospital industry for the highest level of consumers who find it generally honest and trustworthy. Hospitals gained one percentage point in its consumer trust rating from 2009.

The only other industry to be considered trustworthy by at least 20% of consumers is the banking industry, which gained eight percentage points from 12% in 2009 as fallout from the Wall Street scandal which first erupted in fall 2008 gradually fades.

At the other end of the spectrum, two industries have the trust of less than 5% of consumers: oil (4%) and tobacco (2%). Both are industries with historically low levels of public trust; it is interesting that this summer’s BP oil spill only resulted in oil losing one percentage point from the share of consumers rating it trustworthy in 2009.

It is worth noting that almost half of consumers (48%) say none of these 17 industries is trustworthy, up four percentage points in the past year.

Almost Half Want More Oil, Pharma Regulation

harris-need-more-regulation-industries-2003-2010-dec10.gifClose to half of respondents think the oil (47%) and pharmaceutical/drug (46%) industries should be more regulated by the government. Both of these figures are similar to their 2009 results, and both have actually dropped significantly since 2003 (52% for oil and 57% for pharmaceutical/drug).

Despite its bottom ranking in consumer trust, tobacco companies were only the fourth-highest-rated as needing more regulation by consumers (38%), possibly reflecting the already strict tobacco regulations in place.

Three industries are considered to need more regulation by less than 10% of respondents: computer hardware and software (9% each), and supermarket (8%). Thirty percent of consumers say none of these industries needs more regulation, somewhat surprising considering 48% think none of them is trustworthy.

7 in 10 Consumers Trust Banks with Info

Although only 20% of consumers think banks are generally honest and trustworthy, 70% trust banks to securely handle their personal data. Hospitals closely followed at 69%, with life insurance companies coming in a distant third with 57% of consumers trusting their data handling capabilities.

Of the nine industries most likely to handle sensitive consumer data, telecommunications had the lowest trust level (45%).

Finance Seen as Too Powerful

A sizable majority of Americans think banks and financial institutions have too much power in Washington, DC, according to the results of another recent poll from Harris Interactive. Eighty-three percent of Americans said banks and financial institutions are too influential on the federal government.

Although Republicans have an image of supporting finance, Republicans and Democrats agreed that banks and financial institutions wield too much political power. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans and 83% of Democrats said that banks and financial institutions have too much power.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US November 8 and 15, 2010 among 2,151 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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