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Is Boeing in reputational freefall?

An emergency exit door of a Boeing 737 Max 9 plane operated by Alaska Airlines flew off in mid-flight last Friday night.

Federal aviation regulators swiftly ordered the “temporary grounding” of 737 Max 9 planes — and Boeing is now in crisis mode.

As the FT quipped, “Boeing Max 9 accident sends its reputation into a tailspin”.

No kidding.

Boeing’s stock has plummeted 8% since Friday.

As our exclusive data shows, its reputation among stakeholders is in freefall, too.

We track perceptions of hundreds of companies, such as Boeing, every day — giving us a real-time snapshot of what people think of them.

Our chief metric is the Trust & Like Score — or TLS — a score out of 100 that indicates how much people trust and like a company.

The good news for Boeing?

In more than 10 global markets where we track the company, its TLS has fallen just one point since Friday — from 67 to 66.

That suggests it has plenty of goodwill in reserve — reputational capital that’s shielding it from a reputational blowout.

But here’s the thing.

We also track over a dozen attributes that together paint a complete picture of a company’s brand and reputation.

Attributes like Innovation, Leadership, Differentiation, Authenticity and Offering.

The bad news for Boeing?

Across those markets, the numbers for these attributes have fallen since last week, many by at least 2 points (i.e., beyond the margin of error).

In other words, while Boeing isn’t facing a full-blown reputational crisis quite yet, last Friday’s accident appears to be dampening perceptions of the company, along with certain stakeholder behavior towards it.

In fact, since Friday, we’ve seen big drops in the percentage of survey respondents who would say something positive about Boeing, if given the chance (Advocacy); buy, or continue to buy, products or services from Boeing, if given the chance (Consideration); recommend Boeing to others, if given the chance (Recommendation); or consider Boeing as a place to work, if they were looking for a job (Employment).

The image shows the Dashboard view of Boeing’s Trust & Like Score and various perception and behavior attributes across more than 10 global markets between 5 January and 9 January 2024, compared with figures for the previous five days (based on more than 500 interviews per week).
The image shows the Development view of Boeing’s Consideration score across more than 10 global markets in recent weeks — with a 7-percentage point decline this week (based on more than 500 interviews per week).

Investigations are continuing, and it’s still too early to tell where the fault lies.

According to the FT, if the blowout resulted from a manufacturing, not a design, error, Boeing can point to the accident “as a one-off, rather than a fleet-wide issue”. 

For now, though, aspects of its corporate reputation appear to be losing altitude, with its reserves of reputational goodwill apparently protecting a more calamitous freefall.