Our weekly #COVID19 tracker found Americans are cautiously optimistic: Although the approval rating for the vaccine rollout is high (76%), two-thirds (65%) say they still fear a new wave, down from (70%) in the beginning of April. 📈 https://bit.ly/3oc4l3Q
The latest @MorningBrew-Harris Poll survey data found that 60% of Americans are at least somewhat likely to continue ordering directly from restaurants or ghost kitchens once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. https://bit.ly/2SOYm9C
A clip of @McDonaldsCorp TikTok ad proved that even though the video diverges from McDonald’s perceptions, it helps to boost the brand’s reputation among TikTok users by harnessing a characteristic that is valued by these users. Dive deeper: https://bit.ly/3ffUlCz
Americans are leaning into companies that have strong political positions, in the wake of one of the country's most divisive election years.
Driving the news: New rankings from the Axios/Harris 100 poll — an annual survey to gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in the country — show that brands with clear partisan identifications are becoming more popular.
Patagonia is the top brand in America, according to the new survey.
- The brand, which in 2017 sued the Trump Administration to protect national monuments, took a further turn left last year, sewing "VOTE THE ASSHOLES OUT" tags in its clothing ahead of the election.
- REI, Patagonia's outdoor apparel rival and fellow Trump antagonist, appeared on the list for the first time this year.
Several prominently conservative brands performed well, too.
- Chick-fil-A moved up in the rankings, from 11 last year to 4 this year. Hobby Lobby appeared on the list for the first time, as did Goya, which became a political lightning rod after the company's CEO praised then-President Trump. All three have positive reputations.
- Americans listed MyPillow and the Trump Organization among the companies they're most aware of, but both have strongly negative reputations. The Trump Organization came in last place in this year's rankings.
The big picture: This year's reputation rankings reflect a return to normalcy in the business world. While many of the most polarizing companies are doing better than last year, they aren't necessarily the most visible companies.
- The most visible companies are blue-chip brands that consumers relied on heavily throughout the pandemic, such as Amazon and Walmart, Apple, Facebook, Google, Target, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Nike and McDonald’s.
- "Coronavirus companies" that ranked high on the list last year, including Clorox, Peloton and Doordash, have all moved off of this year's list.
Methodology: The Axios Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 42,935 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted April 8-21, 2021. The two-step process starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter in society.
- These 100 “most visible companies” are then ranked by a second group of Americans across the seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking. If a company is not on the list, it did not reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.
As millennials begin to turn 40 in 2021, CNBC Make It has launched Middle-Aged Millennials, a series exploring how the oldest members of this generation have grown into adulthood amid the backdrop of the Great Recession and the Covid-19 pandemic, student loans, stagnant wages and rising costs of living.
The oldest millennials, who are turning 40 this year, haven’t lost their step when it comes to keeping up with technological advancements.
In fact, about 57% of those born between 1981 and 1988 say they regularly use Instagram, according to survey data compiled by The Harris Poll on behalf of CNBC Make It. That’s compared with 73% of Gen Zers and 48% of Generation X members. Harris Poll surveyed roughly 1,000 Americans ages 33 to 40 in one poll and conducted another survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. adults with additional generations.
More than a third of older millennials also use Snapchat frequently, compared with 61% of Gen Zers and 25% of Gen Xers.
To be sure, older millennials have shown in the past the ability to quickly adapt to new technologies. They were the first generation to have access to computers from a young age. They also grew up at a time when technology giants such as Google and Amazon rose to prominence.
Older millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers at home
Alex Taub, the 33-year-old CEO of Gen Z-favorite social networking start-up Upstream, says growing up with a Gateway 3000 in his house was a big factor in nurturing his interest in tech. This allowed him to explore new technology — like the rise of the internet — as it became popular.
Taub says his friends have wide-ranging levels of technological prowess but notes that almost all of them are better with computers than their parents. This is something he attributes to having a lifelong familiarity with tech. Only 12% of baby boomers report using Instagram regularly, and just 4% say they regularly use Snapchat, according to The Harris Poll data.
“To our parents, [technology] was foreign,” Taub says. “With us and our peers, even if you’re not the most proficient digital person, you’re not like Captain America coming back after 70 years under the ice.”
“You may not be good at it. You may not understand the subtleties of this. But it’s not like, ‘What is this?’” he adds.
Even millennials who didn’t end up working in tech were regularly exposed to computers growing up.
Stephanie McCay, a 36-year-old communications director and mother of three, tells CNBC Make It that some of her earliest memories using computers are of AOL Instant Messenger in middle school, adding that the dial-up sound is something she will never forget.
McCay remembers doing school reports where she was required to find articles online to use as sources in addition to the books she found at the library. “It was sort of introducing me and my classmates to the internet and how to use it,” she says.
This comfort level has allowed millennials to keep up with Gen Z in some instances, with 69% of the older generation saying they are comfortable using Twitter compared to 71% of the younger survey respondents. Also, 80% of older millennials say they’re comfortable using Instagram versus 83% for Gen Z.
Even a newer service like TikTok — another favorite of Gen Z — has built a strong older-millennial user base, with 33% saying they use it regularly. Taub partially credits this to older millennials having a familiarity with the style of video, even if they weren’t familiar with its new packaging.
“Everything that’s old is new again with technology: Once you get your ‘For You’ page to be more tuned to you, it’s a short form, digestible YouTube,” he says, referring to TikTok’s recommendation algorithm which learns each user’s preferences.
Nonfungible tokens — the collectible digital tokens that have been selling for millions of dollars in recent months — are also familiar to millennials. “A lot of us experienced all the crazes, from Beanie Babies to baseball cards,” Taub says.
More than half of older millennials surveyed by The Harris Poll and CNBC Make It say they’re comfortable using NFTs, compared with 47% of Gen Xers.
Millennials have been here for the birth of many major technologies
One thing that defines older millennials is they entered adulthood during massive technological shifts, says Ed Zitron, the 35-year-old CEO of tech-focused public relations firm EZPR.
“We’ve been active and relatively young for the creation of Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook,” Zitron says. “The way that mobile phones work now, millennials were there when they started. A lot of advancements have been crammed into our youngest times and also our not-quite-old times.”
The oldest millennials, born in 1981, were in their early 20s when Facebook first started spreading across college campuses, 26 when the first iPhone was released in 2007 and 28 when Travis Kalanick founded Uber in 2009.
“If you look at the time period when millennials were in their teenage years through their late 20s, an insane amount of new stuff was invented,” Zitron says. “Millennials were thrown into a maelstrom of new things. I don’t think Gen Z is going to see so many new things at the volume that we did.”
Brianne Kimmel, founder and managing partner at Worklife Ventures, sees millennials’ embrace of new technologies as the natural path for a generation that went through young adulthood doing things the old-fashioned way.
“We are a generation that remembers going to the grocery store, that remembers how inconvenient it was to book a taxi or ask a friend to pick you up from the airport,” the 32-year-old tells Make It. “In a lot of ways, with these new technologies that we’re adopting, we’re also becoming more of a convenience generation.”
That’s certainly true for McCay. Juggling parenting responsibilities with her full-time job leaves her with little time to run errands, so services like online shopping and grocery delivery help give her more time with her family.
“Being able to get a check, take a picture of it and have it deposited into your bank account, that’s one less trip,” she says. “As a busy working mom, I need technology to help me with my time and my life. Those little things save me.”
Older millennials know they need to stay sharp in order to keep up
Some millennials may also use platforms like Reddit to help find ways to improve their lives if they feel they’re behind on life goals, Kimmel says. Roughly a quarter of older millennials previously surveyed by CNBC Make It say student loans affected their ability to buy a home, as well as save for emergencies and retirement.
“We see this on Reddit with a lot of the investing subreddits where millennials are actively seeking ways to make more money and to get caught up financially,” she says. “Some of the ways [millennials] use social media are largely to become more educated and to figure out ways to hit financial goals in ways that weren’t possible previously.”
And because an increasing number of adults find themselves needing to work past 65 to retire comfortably, keeping up with new technologies will also be important to stay competitive in the job market, Kimmel says.
Additionally, raising children in a high-tech world will parents understanding the platforms their kids are using, she says.
“Because I’m a parent and I have three little kids, I need to continue to learn these technologies because I need to see what they’re doing,” McCay explains, noting that her oldest child has asked to make a TikTok account. “Millennials are in this interesting time where we started a lot of this stuff, and even though we may not want to continue, we have to because of our kids.”
There may likely come a day when a product arrives that there is a generational shift on, Zitron says, but he doesn’t believe it has arrived yet. “I think the reason we’re not seeing more category creation is that what we want is here,” he says. “What we’re limited by is technology.”
Read the full story at CNBC.
Deborah Widger of Queens, New York, normally rents a car to drive to the Philadelphia area to visit her parents several times over the summer.
But she says rental car prices are up 20% to 30% since her last visit and a three-day weekend rental would cost $500.
“I’ll take Amtrak,” says Widger, a retail consultant who lost her clients because of the pandemic and lives on enhanced unemployment benefits.
Consumer prices jumped 4.2% annually in April, the most in 13 years, sparking this question: Is it a blip or a harrowing return to the 1970s?
It isn’t just the usual culprit: gasoline. Pump prices have soared 50% from a year ago, but a core inflation reading that strips out volatile energy and food items increased 3% annually, the largest advance in 25 years.
Surging prices for used cars, airfares
Some of the price increases were eye-popping, particularly in an economy that has struggled for years to approach the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual inflation target. From March to April, used car prices climbed 10%; airline fares, 10.2%; hotel rates, 7.6%; car rental prices, 16.2%; admission to sporting events, 10.1%; household furnishings, nearly a percentage point; and car insurance, 2.5%.
Again, these are monthly increases.
“This is remarkable,” says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of Pantheon Macroeconomics.
Could interest rates rise again?
The outsize surge is raising questions about Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s belief that the COVID-19-induced price spike is temporary. That outcome would probably keep the central bank’s key interest near zero until 2024, at the earliest.
A more enduring bout of inflation could spook consumers and force the Fed to hike rates sooner, pushing up mortgage rates, among other borrowing costs, and crimping the recovery from the coronavirus recession.
Many economists side with Powell, arguing the leap in prices is a byproduct of a reopening economy and should abate by next year. That contingent notes that consumer and business inflation expectations – a critical factor that determines how rapidly prices rise – remain stable.
“The economy should go back to a footing that’s more normal” by this year or 2022, says Bill Adams, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group.
Others say the rise in prices could last longer.
“Given the breadth of the upward pressure on both prices and wages, we believe this will develop into a sustained wage-price spiral,” economist Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics wrote in a note to clients last week.
Eighty-three percent of Americans are somewhat or very concerned about the acceleration in prices, according to a Harris Poll survey for USA TODAY conducted April 30-May 2. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they’re finding higher prices for food and groceries; 61%, for gasoline; 46%, for restaurant meals; 43%, for personal care items; and 38%, for household appliances.
Widger, a baby boomer, is feeling the higher inflation in more than rental car costs. She ventured back to Target and found prices for sandals and other basic shoes had risen 20%, and baseball caps cost $15, up from $10. Instead of plunking down her usual $60 to $100, she spent $37.
“I haven’t been in a store in 15 months,” she says. “I really had sticker shock.”
Here’s why prices have risen so sharply and why many economists say the episode will soon fade.
The big plunge
Prices tumbled last spring as the pandemic led states to shut down their economies. That’s boosting yearly inflation because today’s prices appear lofty compared with a much lower base. That effect won’t be as pronounced by fall since energy and other commodity prices began rising by the second half of last year, Adams says.
New ways of shopping could stick:Whether it's ordering dinner or buying more skin products, our shopping habits changed amid COVID-19
As more Americans are vaccinated, states are lifting restrictions. The U.S. economy is likely to be fully open by summer. People are eager to travel, Ashworth says, as they “finally get to use their saved vacation days and try to make up for lost time,” pushing up airline fares, hotel rates and car rental prices.
The burst of activity will last only so long, Adams says, causing price increases to moderate. The cost of goods and services unrelated to the reopening – such as rent, medical care, clothing and groceries – increased more modestly last month, Ashworth and Shepherdson note.
Read the full story at USA Today.
Inflation is back, and consumers have noticed.
Consumer prices in April rose by the most in 12 years, as product shortages conspired with strong demand by consumers emerging from the coronavirus pandemic. Annual inflation is now 4.2%, a pace economists expect to persist and maybe rise further during the next few months.
Household budgets are suffering. In a new Yahoo Finance-Harris poll, 53% of respondents say their household income is failing to keep up with inflation. Fifteen percent say their income has risen by less than inflation during the last year, 28% say their income has flatlined and 10% say it has fallen. Eighteen percent say their income has risen by more than inflation. Harris polled 1,719 American adults from May 7-10.
Consumers see the prices of goods rising more than services, which generally tracks with inflation data. In the poll, 78% of respondents said the price of goods has risen during the last year, while only 15% say prices have not risen. The numbers are lower for services, with 56% seeing price hikes and 25% not seeing them.
Labor Department data does show higher inflation for goods than for services. The annual inflation rate for durables such as cars and appliances surged to 7.3% in April. There's been a huge jump in used car prices, up 21% during the last 12 months. Gasoline prices are up 50%, though that's compared with a low point during the nationwide coronavirus shutdowns last year, when travel plummeted.
Nondurables such as clothing and office supplies are up by 6.5%. The cost of services, by contrast, has risen by just 2.6%, which probably reflects soft demand as some consumers remain reluctant to leave home, with coronavirus still present.
As for particular categories, 69% of poll respondents said the price of fresh food has risen during the past year, while only 23% say it has stayed the same. Sixty-four percent say the cost of household goods such as cleaning supplies and pet food has risen, while 50% report higher utility costs.
There’s some good news embedded in the inflation data. Forty-one percent of poll respondents say health care costs have stayed flat during the last year, while only 39% say they’ve risen. The data supports that. Health care inflation is just 1.5% during the last year, a rare break for consumers who normally struggle to pay for insurance and out-of-pocket expenses. That, too, could reflect weak demand as people put off non-emergency care until they feel more comfortable going out.
Phone and Internet bills seem to have moderated, with 44% saying they’ve gotten more expensive, but 45% saying they haven’t. Same with non-medical insurance for things likes cars and homes: 38% say the cost has gone up, but 43% say it hasn’t.
Older Americans getting hit harder
There’s a generational quirk in attitudes toward inflation: higher prices seem to be hitting older Americans harder than younger ones. Among those aged 55 to 64, for instance, 83% say goods have gotten more expensive during the last year. But only 70% of those aged 18 to 34 feel that way. Harris researchers hypothesize that young people are in some way sharing expenses with their parents, blunting the impact of inflation.
A key issue for President Biden is whether price pressures are temporary or likely to be lasting. Many economists think distortions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are generating temporary price hikes that will abate by later this year. Carmakers, for instance, didn’t anticipate strong demand and therefore underordered components such as semiconductors, which has now caused supply shortages and higher prices. Lumber mills didn’t foresee a surge in home improvement that has sent demand for wood products skyrocketing. As supply picks up, prices are likely to settle down.
Financial markets are nervous all the same. Economists have been predicting higher inflation for weeks, but stocks still sank on news of the big jump in April prices. Inflation isn’t inherently bad for corporate profits, but it could force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected. That raises borrowing costs, which can depress growth. In the Yahoo Finance-Harris poll, 24% say their financial situation is worse than it was a year ago, while only 16% say they’re better off. Inflation makes hardly anybody feel like they’re getting ahead.
Read the full story at Yahoo Finance.
NEW YORK (May 13, 2021) – Companies with a clear point of view and that deliver not only great products but also an impact on society have the best reputations. Those are among the insights of the Axios-Harris Poll 100, an annual ranking of the reputations of the most visible U.S. companies, which was released today.
Patagonia, Honda, Moderna, Chick-fil-A and SpaceX have the top-five best reputations in America on the 2021 Axios-Harris Poll 100 list.
Companies that struggle with ethics, culture and trust – especially data privacy – are the ones also struggling with reputation. This year, The Trump Organization, Fox, Facebook, Wish.com and Sears are at the bottom of the 22ndannual list, with poor reputations.
“Products, performance and – more than ever – purpose are driving the reputations of America’s top companies and their leaders,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “Today, data privacy is separating ‘good tech’ from social platforms, Americans are burning out on streaming overload, and pharma continues to set the benchmark for companies championing innovation to solve some of society’s toughest challenges.”
The Axios-Harris Poll 100 has ranked reputation since 1999. The survey’s Reputation Quotient (RQ) ranking is based on company performance is seven key areas:
- Trust – “Is this a company I trust?”
- Vision – “Does this company have a clear vision for the future?”
- Growth – “Is this a growing company?”
- Products and Services – “Does this company develop innovative products and services that I want and value?”
- Culture – “Is this a good company to work for?”
- Ethics – “Does this company maintain high ethical standards?”
- Citizenship – “Does this company share my values and support good causes?”
“With the end of the pandemic in the U.S. in sight, this year’s Axios-Harris Poll 100 reflects how we have evolved far beyond business as usual. Today’s consumer is more digitally connected and more purpose-driven than ever, and that dramatically affects what it takes to excel in marketing, communications and reputation,” said Mark Penn, chairman and CEO of MDC Partners; president and managing partner of The Stagwell Group; and chairman of The Harris Poll.
For information on all companies and their ranking on the 2021 Axios-Harris Poll 100, click here and here for an interactive graphic.
“The results of the poll bear out what we’ve been seeing at Axios, particularly among advertisers,” said Jim VandeHei, co-founder and CEO of Axios. “Companies that advertise around corporate social responsibility and purpose is a hot trend right now. Messages about values not only boost a company’s reputation, but they also help with recruiting talent, especially among younger workers that care more about what a company stands for.”
Among the insights from this year’s study:
- Most visible: Amazon and Walmart are the two most visible companies in America today, followed by Apple, Facebook, Google, Target, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Nike and McDonald’s.
- New to the list: Newly added to the 100 most visible companies list this year are Moderna, SpaceX, Chewy, REI, Subaru, In-n-Out Burger, Wayfair, Kaiser Permanente, Goya, Reddit, Robinhood, GameStop, Huawei, My Pillow, TikTok and Wish.
- Top 10: The most visible and most reputable companies – Patagonia, Honda, Moderna, Chick-fil-A, SpaceX, Chewy, Pfizer, Tesla, Costco and Amazon – are separated by only small degrees, they do well in nearly every reputation category, and it is continuous reputation improvement that keeps most of them at the top – with Amazon the exception. Amazon is the only company in the top 10 with a reputation decline from last year.
- Industry movement: Consumer packaged goods and financial services are the 2021 major gainers among all companies in all business sectors. Tech is in reputation decline again – with Google (down 5.03%) one of the biggest year-over-year decliners, along with TikTok, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. Apple is the only major tech company advancing in reputation – with an impressive 2.82% year-over-year gain.
- Vaccine performers: The pharmaceutical industry remains strong following COVID with two major standouts – Moderna is new on the list with an excellent reputation, and Pfizer posted the largest year-over-year reputation gain of any company at 9.86%. Johnson & Johnson’s reputation is much lower than Moderna and Pfizer – with flat year-over-year performance.
- Big Oil: The major oil companies improved or stabilized – with BP up 4.04% and ExxonMobil steady.
- Airlines: Performance is mixed – with Delta down 3.98% but United Airlines up 1.05%. Relatedly, Boeing – the biggest decliner last year – rebounds with an improvement of 4.05%.
- Streaming wars: The streaming services are declining – with Hulu down 1.08% and Netflix down 2.54%.
- The Musk touch: Elon’s companies are doing well – with SpaceX and Tesla both in the top 10 of all companies on reputation and Tesla up 2.66% year over year.
- Biggest year-over-year improvements: Pfizer (9.86%), Dollar General (8.79%), Patagonia (8.69%), Hobby Lobby (6.20%), JCPenney (4.48%), Unilever (4.39%), Trump Organization (4.37%), eBay (4.36%), BP (4.04%) and Bank of America (4.0%).
- Biggest year-over-year declines: Fox (-6.14%), TikTok (-5.21%), Google (-5.03%), Adidas (-4.63%), Delta Air Lines (-3.98%), Sears (-3.95%), Yum! Brands (-3.90%), Publix Supermarkets (-3.72%), Uber (-3.68%) and Procter & Gamble (-3.59%).
“This year’s reputation list reflects the ‘new normal’ for business. To excel today, companies must deliver high marks on all three core drivers of reputation: business performance, corporate character and trust,” said Ray Day, vice chair of The Stagwell Group, which includes The Harris Poll. “More than ever, leading companies take building reputation very seriously. That’s because reputation makes up a third or more of a company’s market capitalization, and companies with better reputations have a price advantage, a competitive advantage and a talent advantage.”
The Axios Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 42,935 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted April 8-21, 2021. The two-step process starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter in society. These 100 “most visible companies” are then ranked by a second group of Americans across the seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking. If a company is not on the list, it did not reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.
John Gerzema, CEO, The Harris Poll [email protected]
Ray Day, Vice Chair, Stagwell [email protected]
About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963. It is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas: building 21st century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. Learn more by visiting www.harrispoll.com and follow Harris Poll on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Axios is a digital media company launched in 2017. Axios – which means “worthy” in Greek – helps you become smarter, faster with news and information across politics, tech, business, media, science and the world. Subscribe to our newsletters at axios.com/newsletters and download our mobile app at axios.com/app.
The Stagwell Group is the first and only independent, digital-first and fully integrated organization of size and scale servicing brands across the continuum of marketing services. Collaborative by design, Stagwell is not weighed down by legacy points of view, and its people are united in their desire to innovate, evolve, grow and deliver superior results for their clients. Stagwell’s high-growth brands include experts in four categories: digital transformation and marketing, research and insights, marketing communications, and content and media.
About MDC Partners
MDC Partners is one of the most influential marketing and communications networks in the world. As “The Place Where Great Talent Lives,” MDC Partners is celebrated for its innovative advertising, public relations, branding, digital, social and event marketing agency partners, which are responsible for some of the most memorable and effective campaigns for the world’s most respected brands. By leveraging technology, data analytics, insights and strategic consulting solutions, MDC Partners drives creative excellence, business growth and measurable return on marketing investment for over 1,700 clients worldwide. For more information about MDC Partners and its partner firms, visit our website and follow us on Twitter.