Consumers are less satisfied with everyday products than they were earlier in the year, but they like Scottsdale-based Dial Corp.’s goods a whole lot more than they used to.
Overall consumer satisfaction is down, although just slightly, for the first time since early 2005, according to a report by the University of Michigan that measures U.S. companies’ people-pleasing performance on a quarterly basis.
Rising prices of food, gas and cigarettes are mostly to blame for the dissatisfaction, said university professor Claes Fornell, who compiles and analyzes the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
The growing consumer gloom is likely to dampen already sagging holiday spending expectations, Fornell said, but it could be good news for individual companies that rate high with the public.
A brand’s score is not as important as whether it is going up or down, he said.
“When a company increases in satisfaction, the likelihood is customers will buy more and spread the word, the company will be healthier, grow and employ more people, and the stock price will go up,” Fornell said. “This is all good news and leads to even better news.”
Winners in Fornell’s most recent report include such national names as Nike, Heinz, Campbell Soup and Dial.
In fact, the soap-maker jumped in shoppers’ esteem nearly 4 percent, as much as key competitor Colgate-Palmolive fell.
The boost pushed Dial ahead of Procter & Gamble, and pulled it up even with global giant Unilever.
“Dial moves up by 4 percent to 86, its highest score in 12 years,” Fornell wrote in the report.
He attributes Dial’s recent surge in popularity to the company’s dumping of the Armour meat products so it could focus on cleaning products, and parent Henkel buying its North American subsidiary some pricey products such as Soft & Dri and Right Guard deodorants.
Scott Moffit, general manager of Dial’s Personal Care division, said the company tries to constantly improve its products and packaging and stay on the cutting edge of new developments.
Dial recently improved its bar soaps, spiffed up the packaging of liquid soaps, and introduced such items as yogurt-based soaps and a line of products for men, Moffit said.
“We’re delighted that consumers are satisfied with our products,” he said. “They recognize we are doing something right, and we are happy about that.”
And Moffit agreed with Fornell that growth in customer satisfaction boosts the company’s growth, and “creates new opportunities across the board.”
Dial is already committed to growing its brand in Scottsdale, with an expansive headquarters slated to be completed in late 2008.
American Customer Satisfaction Index scores for selected companies/brands (out of 100):
Levi Strauss: 80
General Mills: 83