Huge Improvement in Reputation of The Auto Industry And Big Drop In Reputation Of Airlines

    New York, N.Y. – September 21, 2011 – The latest Harris Poll measuring how the public perceives twenty-two of the nation’s largest industries shows massive changes over the last two years. The biggest changes since 2009, when the survey was last conducted, are a huge improvement in the number of people who think that theautomobile industry is doing a good job of serving consumers and a very large increase in those who give the airline industry bad marks. One key measure, the difference between those who think the industry is doing a good and a bad job of serving their consumers, shows a 36 point improvement, from plus 6 to plus 42 for the car industry and a 27 point decline, from plus 34 to plus 7 for airlines. Other sizable changes since 2009 include an 11 point improvement in public attitudes to online search engines, from plus 63 to plus 74, and a 10 point improvement in attitudes to the still unpopular health insurance industry, from minus 19 to minus 9.

    The industries with the best images among the public are supermarkets (plus 80) online search engines (plus 74) hospitals (plus 66) computer hardware companies (plus 61) and computer software companies (plus 55).

    The least popular industries are oil companies (minus 31) tobacco companies (minus 21) managed care companies (minus 13) health insurance companies (minus 9) and investment and brokerage firms (plus 3).

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 1,956 adults surveyed by telephone and online between August 8 and 15, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    Trends since 1997

    Because The Harris Poll has been asking these questions almost every year since 1997 it is possible to look not just at short term trends but also at changes over 14 years, although some of the industries were not included in the earliest surveys. The biggest changes (all of them declines in the images of the industries involved) over this time are:

    • A 55 point drop, from plus 24 to minus 31, for oil companies;
    • A 43 point drop, from plus 60 to plus 17, for pharmaceutical companies;
    • A 37 point drop, from plus 61 to plus 24, for telephone companies;
    • A 31 point drop, from plus 52 to plus 21, for banks;
    • A 26 point drop, from plus 13 to minus 13, for managed care companies; and
    • A 22 point drop, from plus 13 to minus 9, for health insurance companies.

    So what?

    Several important conclusions can be reached from these findings. There are huge differences between the reputations of different industries, some of which are widely liked and respected and some of which are very unpopular. Events, as well as the services that they provide, can have a huge impact on how people feel about different industries, as shown by the roller coaster ups and downs of many of these industries over the last 14 years. During these years public attitudes to the auto, pharmaceutical, health insurance, telephone, banking, financial services and oil industries have moved up and down in response to events and, no doubt, by the media coverage of those events. Politicians may draw another set of conclusions, that it is not a good thing to be seen as supporters of very unpopular industries, and that there may be votes to be won by Democrats if they can label their Republican opponents as being too close to big oil or the health insurance industry.

     

    TABLE 1

    Industries Doing Good Job/Bad Job of Serving Their Consumers

    Do you think …generally do a good or bad job of serving their consumers?

    Base: All respondents assigned (variable base)

     

     

    Good Job

    Bad Job

    Not Sure/Refused

    Good Job Minus Bad Job

    Supermarkets

    %

    90

    10

     

    80

    Online search engines

    %

    82

    8

    10

    74

    Hospitals

    %

    82

    16

    2

    66

    Computer hardware companies

    %

    77

    16

    7

    61

    Computer software companies

    %

    72

    17

    12

    55

    Online retailers

    %

    70

    16

    13

    54

    Internet service providers

    %

    71

    21

    8

    50

    Packaged food companies

    %

    71

    24

    5

    47

    Car manufacturers

    %

    69

    27

    4

    42

    Electric and gas utilities

    %

    70

    29

    1

    41

    Online social media sites

    %

    56

    26

    19

    30

    Life insurance companies

    %

    60

    32

    8

    28

    Telephone companies

    %

    61

    37

    3

    24

    Banks

    %

    59

    38

    2

    21

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    %

    57

    40

    3

    17

    Cable companies

    %

    54

    43

    3

    11

    Airlines

    %

    50

    43

    8

    7

    Investment and brokerage firms

    %

    46

    43

    11

    3

    Health insurance companies

    %

    43

    52

    6

    -9

    Managed care companies, such as HMOs

    %

    39

    52

    9

    -13

    Tobacco companies

    %

    36

    57

    7

    -21

    Oil companies

    %

    33

    64

    3

    -31

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding.

     

    TABLE 2

    Difference Between Good Job/Bad Job By Industry

    Do you think each of the following generally do a good or bad job of serving their consumers?

    Base: All adults

     

     

    Changes

    ’97

    ’98

    ’00

    ’01

    ’02

    ’03

    ’04

    ’05

    ’06

    ’07

    ’08

    ’09

    ’11

    1997-2011

    2009-2011

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Supermarkets

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    74

    79

    84

    83

    84

    84

    86

    80

    N/A

    -6

    Online search engines

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    68

    67

    77

    65

    63

    74

    N/A

    +11

    Hospitals

    57

    50

    48

    41

    56

    53

    49

    59

    51

    58

    53

    59

    66

    +9

    +7

    Computer hardware companies

    71

    70

    70

    71

    49

    57

    64

    74

    64

    64

    64

    55

    61

    -10

    +6

    Computer software companies

    71

    71

    71

    72

    48

    57

    62

    67

    67

    61

    59

    57

    55

    -16

    -2

    Online retailers

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    51

    56

    48

    45

    49

    54

    N/A

    +5

    Internet service providers

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    51

    62

    46

    52

    45

    50

    N/A

    +5

    Packaged food companies

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    58

    62

    67

    59

    55

    46

    48

    47

    N/A

    -1

    Car manufacturers

    44

    44

    40

    40

    41

    38

    44

    34

    31

    46

    37

    6

    42

    -2

    +36

    Electric and gas utilities

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    50

    34

    42

    43

    41

    41

    N/A

    0

    Online social media sites

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    30

    N/A

    N/A

    Life insurance companies

    35

    39

    39

    36

    34

    29

    27

    44

    42

    18

    26

    38

    28

    -7

    -10

    Telephone companies

    61

    53

    32

    27

    22

    20

    17

    42

    38

    35

    37

    35

    24

    -37

    -11

    Banks

    52

    46

    49

    46

    54

    50

    52

    57

    61

    56

    46

    22

    21

    -31

    -1

    Pharmaceutical and drug companies

    60

    50

    24

    20

    30

    4

    -4

    13

    25

    21

    15

    9

    17

    -43

    +8

    Cable companies

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    28

    28

    -1

    14

    17

    11

    N/A

    -6

    Airlines

    N/A

    66

    45

    15

    47

    40

    61

    62

    42

    26

    18

    34

    7

    N/A

    -27

    Investment and brokerage firms

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    N/A

    35

    40

    45

    24

    -3

    3

    N/A

    +6

    Health insurance companies

    13

    1

    -15

    -19

    13

    -12

    -20

    -19

    -3

    -21

    -9

    -19

    -9

    -22

    +10

    Managed care companies such as HMOs

    13

    3

    -27

    -30

    -12

    -23

    -23

    -13

    -3

    -20

    -14

    -19

    -13

    -26

    +6

    Tobacco companies

    -28

    -28

    -34

    -37

    -36

    -32

    -30

    -28

    -25

    -46

    -43

    -32

    -21

    +7

    +11

    Oil companies

    24

    38

    -13

    -39

    -6

    -6

    -25

    -36

    -24

    -33

    -32

    -26

    -31

    -55

    -5

    Notes: N/A= Not Asked

    In 1997 computer companies were rated together (i.e., hardware and software companies were not measured separately).

     

    Methodology

    The Harris Poll® was conducted by telephone and online, within the United States between August 8 and 15, 2011 among a nationwide cross section of 1,956 adults (aged 18 and over). The interviews conducted by telephone (1019) included a nationwide cross section of adults with landlines in their households. The interviews conducted online (937) included a nationwide sample who have agreed to take part in Harris Interactive surveys, and who indicated not having a landline (i.e., cell phone only), or using their cell phone for almost all of their calls (cell phone mostly), and thus were included to ensure representation of these groups that are lacking among a traditional RDD telephone sample. Telephone data only were adjusted to ensure appropriate representation on number of telephone/voice lines and number of adults in the household, and online data only were are adjusted by propensity to be online to correct for attitudinal/behavioral differences between our panel and those who respond via phone. Finally, for the combined telephone and online data, figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income, and phone status (cell phone only, cell phone mostly, dual users, landline mostly, landline only) were adjusted as necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Population proportions for demographic variables were acquired from the 2010 Current Population Survey, while phone status proportions were acquired from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    J40515

    The Harris Poll® #100, September 21, 2011

    By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman The Harris Poll