May 23, 2023 - Economy

Trust in U.S. companies soars as global tensions escalate

Illustration of a tractor in a red, white, and blue field.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Brands with ties to the heartland — including John Deere (Illinois), Kohl's (Wisconsin) and USAA (Texas) — are enjoying big reputation gains compared with foreign firms, according to this year's Axios Harris 100 poll.

Why it matters: Companies deeply embedded in American culture ranked higher than most others across attributes such as culture, ethics, citizenship and trust — especially brands associated with China.

Of note: Costco, Kraft Heinz and Chick-fil-A ranked in the top 10 among 100 companies surveyed about their reputations across categories such as culture, ethics and citizenship.

  • John Deere, which for the first time this year cracked the annual list of 100 most visible brands, ranked third in terms of reputation. Harris and Axios have been publishing the survey together since 2017.
  • U.S. manufacturers and automakers all saw their rankings rise as supply chain issues continued to plague inventory.
  • "I think what's really been driving that is the geopolitical environment and macroeconomics. You've got the Chinese spy balloons, Russia and Ukraine, China and Taiwan, and Americans are sort of reverting to home, said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll.

Be smart: Chinese firms including TikTok parent ByteDance and e-commerce giant Shein were some of the lowest-ranking firms in terms of reputation, 94th and 85th, respectively.

  • Other global brands didn't rank as high as most American firms this year, but their reputation scores didn't dip as low.
  • Samsung, a Korean firm, and Toyota, a Japanese firm, both ranked in the top 10 in terms of overall reputation, Japan's Sony and Korea's LG ranked 12th and 18th, respectively.

The big picture: Many Chinese companies are facing intense public scrutiny in the U.S. from journalists, researchers and the U.S. government.

  • Chinese tech titans including Huawei, Hikvision, and Dahua, as well as other Chinese companies with ties to China's military, have been added to a U.S. Commerce Department blacklist due to national security and human rights concerns.
  • Some Chinese solar panel companies and clothing retailers, including Shein, have been linked to products made with forced labor in Xinjiang.

Go deeper: Full results and poll methodology

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