In years past, rising customer satisfaction has helped sustain economic growth via consumer spending even though wages did not improve much. But as the financial crisis has led to a credit crunch and a contracting economy with high unemployment, the ability of households to spend money is now seriously curtailed.
“The good news is that there has not been a collapse in customer satisfaction, but rather that the slide in ACSI might be flattening; the bad news is that customer satisfaction will not contribute to aggregate consumer spending as much as it used to. Households are strapped for cash, have little savings and credit is tight,” said Professor Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer. “But for individual companies, customer satisfaction actually matters even more in a recession. Now is the time to make sure customers don’t leave and that margins don’t evaporate. Firms without strongly satisfied customers will face a very difficult challenge.”
For the third quarter, the ACSI reports results for the non-durable goods sector, including breweries, cigarettes, food manufacturing, pet food, and soft drinks.
Food Companies: Customer Satisfaction Edges Up
Customer satisfaction with food companies climbs 2.5% to 83. Perennial top-performer Heinz (-1% to 89) leads the industry, with Quaker Oats (+1% to 87) and Mars (86) not far behind. Heinz continues its reliance core products, most notably the ketchup brand, and remains one of the most consistently high-scoring companies in ACSI. While many companies experienced little growth over the past fiscal year, Heinz’s revenue increased by 12%.
At the other end of the spectrum, Campbell Soup falls 4% to 80. There is no evidence of quality problems, but higher prices appear to be a major contributing cause.
For a complete list of measured companies and scores, please visit http://www.theacsi.org.