GREENWICH, CT: A detailed study of individual investors' perceptions of the 30 companies that comprise the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average found that the reputations of many of those firms slid in 2002.
The findings come via Interpublic Group's marketing data research firm NFO WorldGroup, which has published the results of a Dow 30 study reputation study that uses its CORE - Corporate Opinion Reputation Equity - index.
For this year's CORE index, 2,250 individual investors graded each Dow 30 company on more than 20 factors that contributed to corporate opinion, reputation, and equity during Q4 2002.
In 2002, the CORE index average of the Dow 30 saw a drop of 16%, which directly mirrored the 16% decline in the DJIA itself for 2002.
NFO also found that in 2002, a majority of the Dow 30 earned a rating of "vulnerable" or "at risk." That marked a dramatic reputation decline from 2001, when the CORE research found that most of these companies ranked in the "resilient" or "strong" categories.
The company with the biggest drop in its CORE ranking was 3M, which fell two notches from "resilient" to "vulnerable."
The study determined that the major opinion and reputation drivers for the Dow 30 included customer satisfaction, fair and ethical business practices, quality products and services, and trust and confidence.
NFO said that this year's study highlights several important issues involving reputation.
"(The study shows that) reputation is equity, and credibility is currency," said Shubhra Ramchandani, North American stakeholder management practice leader at NFO WorldGroup.
"Investment in these assets can pay big dividends for companies," he added. "Savvy executives will focus on both character and competence as investors and consumers alike are demanding 'back to basics' in fulfilling brand promises and corporate behavior."
CORE RANKINGS OF 10 DJIA COMPANIES
Company 2002 CORE Index 2001 CORE Index
Coca-Cola Strong Resilient
Johnson & Johnson Strong Resilient
Disney Strong Resilient
Intel Strong Resilient
Microsoft Strong Resilient
General Electric Strong Strong
3M Vulnerable Resilient
Hewlett-Packard Vulnerable Strong
IBM Vulnerable Strong
McDonald's Vulnerable Strong
Note: CORE rankings are (in descending order): Resilient, Strong,
Vulnerable Source: NFO WorldGroup