Samsung’s Reputation Burned Down With The Galaxy Note 7

It’s now as popular as the United States Postal Service, which is not all that popular

Photo Illustration: Tara Jacoby
Feb 22, 2017 at 10:52 AM ET

We can all agree that 2016 was terrible year for Samsung, as the South Korea company dealt with its self-combusting Galaxy Note 7. While the exploding smartphone crisis didn’t affect the company’s financial growth, the latest Harris Poll shows that Samsung’s reputation took a serious hit.

Harris Poll’s 2017 Reputation Quotient Ratings report revealed that the smartphone manufacturer fell from No. 7 in 2016 to No. 49 this year on a ranked list of brand reputations — leaving it just one slot above the United States Postal Service.

The annual report has been measuring the reputation of America’s 100 most visible companies since 1999. Other companies that are ranked include retailers such as Macy’s, Walmart, and Amazon — which topped the list for the second consecutive year. Samsung’s smartphone competitors Apple, Google, and Microsoft are at ranks No. 5, No. 8, and No. 20, respectively.

The poll, conducted between late November and December 2016, surveyed 30,000 U.S. adults about various brands’ social responsibility, vision/leadership, financial performance, workplace environment, products and services, and emotional appeal.

“Samsung’s recent product safety challenges take their toll (particularly around social responsibility,” reads the report.

Samsung’s fall in popularity might’ve also helped Apple’s rise. The iPhone maker rose from No. 9 in 2015. In part, its successful release of iPhone 7, which comes with a better camera and is water resistant, likely helped. But it could also be that Samsung may have lost millions of customers to Apple after the Note 7 news.

Shares of Apple rose nearly 2 percent the Tuesday after Samsung announced it would stop manufacturing the Note 7, and Apple’s stock surged almost 10 percent from September to October 2016 after the first recall was announced. Analysts were also forecasting that between 5 and 7 million Samsung customers would eventually switch over to Apple.

Although the Note 7 debacle was big enough with two recalls and software updates that would stop the phone from charging, that’s not the only scandal that might have caused Samsung’s reputation to take a hit. The company also dealt with a washer recall in November 2016 after several reports surfaced saying that the drums in certain washers would become loose and trigger “excessive vibrations, resulting in the top separating from the washer,” and injuring consumers.