Consumers' fascination with tech faded last year, a new brand survey indicates, unless the company could also tout consumer hits such as the Echo device or a space-traveling Tesla.
Amazon remains the company with the best reputation, but the reputations of several other tech brands including Apple and Google took hard hits in the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient poll, out Tuesday.
It's just the latest evidence of a burgeoning backlash against some of the technology giants that impact consumers' lives daily. Among the factors, which have spawned the hashtag #Techlash: Apple's recent Batterygate crisis, which found many iPhone users with slowed devices, and concerns about how Google-owned YouTube and Facebook were manipulated by Russian operatives in the 2016 presidential race.
Apple fell to 29 and Google sank to 28. As recently as 2016, Apple and Google were No. 2 and No. 3 behind Amazon in the poll, which measures reputation for the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. The two tech companies were also in the top 10 last year, but at No. 5 and No. 8, respectively.
Facebook falls much lower on the list at No. 51 but is up from No. 66 last year.
Others in the top 10 included several grocery or restaurant chains: Wegmans at No. 2, Chick-fil-A at No. 4, HEB Grocery at No. 6, Publix at No. 8 and Aldi at No. 10.
Amazon, which is increasingly elbowing its way into these grocery chains' turf with two-hour delivery and a checkout-free grocery chain, got the most props from consumers, maintaining an "excellent reputation," the Harris report says.
It is the third consecutive year, and the fourth out of the last five, that the Seattle-headquartered online retailer has held the top spot in the annual poll of the 100 most visible companies. In 2015, Wegmans edged out Amazon for the top spot, pushing the retailing powerhouse to No. 2.
This comes as Amazon mixes business expansion — more homes are welcoming its Echo speakers powered by digital voice assistant Alexa and it's integrating its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion — with so-called moonshot projects such as its initiative with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to improve lower health care costs.
Also gaining in reputation: Tesla Motors, which moved up to No. 3 from No. 9 last year. Company founder and CEO Elon Musk is the current master of moonshot projects with plans to send people to Mars — with rockets built by his other company SpaceX — and build high-speed transportation tunnels in high-traffic metro areas. He recently wowed consumers by putting a Tesla Roadster on a Falcon Heavy rocket and launching it into space.
The Top 10
3. Tesla Motors
5. The Walt Disney Co.
6. HEB Grocery
8. Publix Supermarkets
For the 19th annual poll, 25,880 people were interviewed between Dec. 11, 2017, and Jan. 12, 2018.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.