SAN FRANCISCO, April 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Reputations of major corporations are paying the price of an increasingly skeptical public that appears to be weary of continued economic uncertainties and wary of its causes, according to a new survey by brand and marketing consultancy Prophet.
The firm's just-released Reputation Winners and Losers study found more losers than winners in the estimation of 5,300 U.S. consumers asked to rank 150 leading businesses across 18 industries according to over 30 drivers of reputation.
Prophet's third annual reputation study tracked declines in scores across all industry sectors but one – and that marginal gain, by the oil and gas sector, was not enough to elevate it from the ranks of the poorest reputation performers.
"Overall, reputation scores fell back to the levels of the first year of our study, 2009," said Jeff Smith, the Prophet partner who led the study. "This year, 16 percent of all companies ranked in the 'poor' category of performance, versus 13 percent last year. And none scored at 'leading' levels, while 14 percent did in 2010."
Among the highlights of this year's rankings:
- Apple, undoubtedly propelled at least partially by Steven Jobs' death when the survey was fielded, edged out Kraft to capture the No. 1 spot (from 13 last year). Google also jumped into the top 10, to No. 9 from 28. Still, the tech sector overall scored just average on reputation as the majority of the businesses included saw their rankings slide from previous years.
- Kellogg's and Kraft, after alternating between the top two spots in previous years, still came in at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, and the consumer packaged goods sector continued to dominate the top 25. Still, only two firms managed to advance – Nestle (to 7 from 10) and Procter and Gamble (to 14 from 23) – while General Mills and Coca Cola both dropped (to 8 from 4, and 20 from 8, respectively).
- Toyota scored a substantial rebound from its recall woes, jumping to the 74th spot from 139. Its performance was indicative of a general improvement in reputation scores by the industry, where advances also were scored by Honda (to 29 from 30); BMW (31 from 34); Ford (36 from 60); and GM (73 from 85).
Through the study, Smith said, Prophet has found that reputations are both fragile yet resilient, and the attributes shaping them can vary sharply according to micro and macro forces.
This year, he noted, personal relevance factors were decidedly the most important in driving reputations. "Consumers are worrying less about companies' leadership or financial performance and more about things that 'make a difference in their life' or 'inspire them,'" he said. "This challenges businesses to do more to open the dialog and establish a more personal, emotional connection if they expect their reputations to improve."
This year's reputation study is available at no charge by clicking here.
Prophet is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy that helps its clients win by delivering inspired and actionable ideas.
Sally Saville Hodge