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Nielsen-US-Industry-Reputation-Ratings-Apr20141 in 5 American adults believe that the reputation of corporate America has improved over the past year, according to the latest Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) [download page], now issued by Nielsen following its acquisition of Harris. While more consumers are noting improvements than in years past – and fewer are seeing a decline in overall corporate reputation - the percentage of consumers believing that corporate America’s reputation has declined is still twice as large as the percentage feeling that it has improved. Some industries are faring far better than others.

The clear-cut leader continues to be technology, which 8 in 10 respondents feel has a positive reputation, continuing its upward trend over the past few years. Following technology in perceived positive reputation are travel and tourism (65%), consumer products (60%) and retail (59%), each of which has also improved in recent years to varying degrees.

Certain industries have net negative ratings. That’s particularly the case for tobacco and government; significantly more Americans perceive a negative than positive reputation for each.

It’s also the case for the financial sector: financial services (-11% points net negative), banking (-14% points), and insurance (-1% point) all have net negative ratings, per the report. That’s an interesting point to consider in light of privacy concerns: more Americans this year (76%) agree that they’re concerned about the increasing amount of personal information companies capture about their customers, but banks and other financial institutions are among the most-trusted industries with consumer data.

Only 44% trust companies to act responsibly when it comes to using all the private data they have on consumers, per the Harris study.

Other intriguing findings from the report follow:

  • Amazon once again has the best reputation of the largest companies tracked in the study, followed by Coca-Cola and Apple;
  • The percentage of Americans who have a very poor or terrible view of corporate America (38%) is larger than the percentage with an excellent or very positive view (33%); and
  • Some 56% of Americans agree that more so than in the past they are pro-actively trying to learn more about the companies they hear about or do business with.

About the Data: The Harris RQ Ratings Phase took place from December 23 2013 through January 6, 2014. 60 “most visible” companies were identified and measured through 14,055 interviews with the general public.

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