Public Shows Less Trust in Corporate America This Year

December 13, 2013

Harris-Americans-Trust-in-Large-Industries-Dec2013Americans are less likely to perceive large industries as “generally honest and trustworthy” this year, according to a new survey from Harris Interactive. The survey asked respondents which of 19 industries they think are generally honest and trustworthy, such that they would normally believe a statement by a company in that industry. Perceptions of honesty fell in 18 of the 19 industries, with tobacco the only one staying steady from last year – but with just 3% of adults finding the industry trustworthy.

The most trust-worthy industry again this year is supermarkets, but even it doesn’t score highly. Just 3 in 10 adults said they would normally believe a statement by a supermarket, down 8% points from 38% last year. Following supermarkets were hospitals (-8% points to 28%), online search engines (-4% points to 18%), banks (-2% points to 18%) and computer hardware companies (-3% points to 17%).

While online retailers mostly stood their ground in perceptions of honesty, down a single percentage point from last year, only 15% of respondents find them to be generally trustworthy. Some industries that traditionally struggle with perceptions of honesty continued to do this year: pharma and drug companies lost a couple of points to just 10% of respondents, health insurance companies shed 4% points to 7% of respondents, and oil companies dropped 2% points to just 4% of respondents.

Sandwiched among those were social media companies: just 6% of respondents said they would generally trust a statement from a social media company, down from 8% last year. The leading social network – Facebook – suffers from one of the lowest customer satisfaction scores among the Interbrand 100, according to a recent report from ForeSee.

Overall, the Harris survey finds that 42% of respondents would not trust a statement from companies in any of the 19 industries surveyed, up from 36% last year.

An Edelman study released earlier this year found that Americans were more than twice as likely to trust small businesses as big businesses, while Harris research released at the beginning of the year indicated that close to two-thirds of Americans feel that the perceived reputation of corporate America is not good.

About the Data: The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,250 adults (aged 18 and over). 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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