Supermarkets’ Reputation Shines, Tobacco & Oil at Bottom of Barrel

August 12, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Financial Services | Pharma & Healthcare | Retail & E-Commerce

Supermarkets get top honors for providing the best service to consumers, while tobacco, oil and managed-care companies fare the worst, and previously well-regarded industries such as banks and brokerage firms take a hit,?according to a Harris Poll .

The decline in banks’ and brokerage firms’ reputation is likely the result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Harris said.

Some 90% of adults agree that supermarkets do a good job at serving consumers, and only 6% say they do a poor job, giving them a net score of 84, the highest in the survey.


The next highest scores were for search engines (65), computer hardware companies (64), computer software companies (59), hospitals (53), and internet service providers (52), Harris said.

Tobacco companies (-43) and oil companies (-32) have net negative scores and are at the bottom of the list, far below the other 19 industries. The two other industries with negative scores are managed care companies (-14) and health insurance (-9), which are synonymous in many people’s minds.

Cable companies (14), pharmaceuticals (15) and airlines (18) also have net scores below 20.

Changes Since Last Year


Since last year’s report, reputation scores for five industries have improved by six points or more: Cable companies (up 15 points), health insurance (up 12), life insurance (up 8), internet service providers (up 6) and managed care (up 6).

Six industries got worse scores this year: Investment and brokerage firms (down 21), banks (down 10), online search engines (down 12), packaged food companies (down 9), car manufacturers (down 9), and pharmaceuticals (down 6).

Changes since 1997

Three industries have seen significant declines in their reputations since Harris began the survey in 1997:

  • Oil companies’ scores have fallen 56 points from 24 to -32.
  • Airlines have fallen 48 points from 66 to 18 since 1998 (they were not included in the 1997 survey).
  • Pharmaceutical companies have fallen 45 points from 60 to 15 this year.
  • Three other industries have suffered declines of more than 20 points since 1997: managed care (down 27 ), telephone companies (down 24), and health insurance (down 22 ).

Scores are a composite reflection of several factors, including respondents’ personal experiences with particular industries, real-world events and media coverage, which helps shapes perceptions, according to Harris.

About the survey: The 2008 Harris Poll was conducted by telephone within the United States between July 8 -13, 2008 among a nationwide cross section of 1,010 adults, age18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race, education, number of adults, number of voice/telephone lines in the household, region and size of place were weighted where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. However, only approximately 500 people were asked about each industry.

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