Only 2 in 10 Hold Positive View of Corporate America

February 16, 2012

harris-us-corp-reputation-feb-2012.jpgJust 22% of Americans have a positive perception of corporate reputation as it stands now, according to [pdf] a survey released in February 2012 by Harris Interactive. Only 7% of respondents rated their perception of corporate reputation a 6 (5%) or 7 (2%) on a 7-point scale, with 7 representing “very good.” By contrast, 31% rated their perception a 2 (16%) or a 1 (15%), representing a 19% increase from 26% of respondents in 2011. This comes on the heels of survey results showing corporate reputation to have a significant effect on consumer purchase decisions: according to January 2012 survey results from Weber Shandwick, 57% of US consumers say that they are increasingly checking product labels to see what company is behind the product they are buying, and the same proportion say they get annoyed when it is not obvious what company is behind a product.

Corporate Reputation Waning

Data from “The 2012 Harris Poll Annual RQ Report” indicates that the public’s perception of corporate reputation is getting worse. 3 in 5 respondents said that their perception of corporate America had declined either a little (31%) or a lot (29%) over the past year, a 36% increase from 44% who responded that way in 2011. Indeed, the proportion saying their perception improved in any way fell 53% from 19% in 2011 to only 9% this year.

Tech Easily Bests Verticals in Reputation

Technology easily leads all other verticals in perception, with roughly three-quarters of respondents saying it has a positive reputation, compared to 7% who said it has a negative reputation. The next-closest competitor was the travel and tourism sector, chosen by 58% of respondents to have a positive reputation, slightly ahead of retail (57%) and consumer products (53%). However, those were the only verticals to have a majority of respondents rate them positively.

The financial industry was among the worst performers: only 17% said financial services had a positive reputation, and just 16% said banking had a positive reputation. At the bottom of the list were tobacco (11%) and the government (10%).

Auto Industry Continues to Improve

Meanwhile, the automotive industry showed the greatest improvement of the 13 industries studied. This year, 47% of respondents gave it a positive rating, marking a 17.5% increase from 40% in 2011, and an 88% jump from 25% in 2009. Most other industries did not show significant movement year-over-year, aside from financial services, which dropped 23% from 22% of respondents in 2012 to 17% this year.

About the Data: The Harris results are based on a survey of more than 17,000 members of the American general public.

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