Supermarkets top social media in US

22 September 2011

NEW YORK: Supermarkets, search engines and online retailers enjoy better reputations with US consumers than automakers and social networks, a new study has found.

Harris Interactive, the research group, surveyed a representative sample of 1,956 adults about 22 specific industries, the fourteenth successive year it has conducted this kind of analysis.

Exactly 90% of participants agreed supermarkets are doing a "good job" of serving customers and just 10% adopted the opposite position, leaving the sector with the best net total, on 80%.

Internet search engines posted a net 74%, ahead of hospitals on 64%, computer hardware manufacturers on 61%, and software companies, which secured 55% here.

Ecommerce sites received 54% on the same metric, a figure that may have been stronger if the amount of contributors either "not sure" or unwilling to answer had not reached 16%, a response most common when discussing technology categories.

Internet service providers were rated highly by half of the panel and packaged food manufacturers delivered 47%.

Automakers achieved 42%, while gas and electricity firms logged 41%, and had the lowest returns, on 1%, regarding people who were not willing to supply an assessment.

Social media sites generated 56% in terms of favourable feedback, 26% for more critical comments, and 19% where interviewees did not offer a view, in keeping with the trend for online retailers.

Oil conglomerates yielded the worst scores, on -31%, as tobacco firms registered -21%, the managed care segment hit -9% , and investment and brokerage specialists recorded 3%.

"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," Harris Interactive said.

From 1997 to 2011, corporations trading in the oil market saw perception ratings tumble by 55%, with pharma manufacturers off by 43 points, to 17%. Banks dropped by 31 points, to 21% overall. The tobacco sector, however, improved by seven points.

Since 2009, supermarkets have actually lost six points and telephone companies slid by 11 points, to 24%. In contrast, carmakers enjoyed a 36-point lift, search engines were up by 11 points and pharma groups improved by eight points.

Data sourced from Harris Interactive; additional content by Warc staff