Consumers Rate Auto Manufacturers as the Most Socially Innovative Brands, but Social Innovators Also Include Service Providers like Navy Federal Credit Union, Aflac, and Chick-fil-A

New York, New York, Sept. 4– Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, along with the Norwegian School of Economics, and market research firm Rockbridge Associates, Inc., announced the top social innovators from the American Innovation Index™ (Aii), the only survey in the US measuring company social innovativeness based on customers’ experiences. To date, the Aii is the only large scale, scientifically vetted measure of social innovation in the U.S. that is based on customer ratings.  

Auto Companies claim most of the top spots, with Honda, Toyota, Ford and General Motors ranking #1, #2, #4 and #6 respectively out of 174 companies covered in the study. Service companies rounded out the list of top social innovators. The nation’s largest credit union, Navy Federal, ranked #5, insurer Aflac ranked #7, and Chick-fil-A ranked #8.  Customers feel these companies offer products and services that benefit the social good, innovate to benefit society and the environment, and make social innovation a priority. The tech sector is not the most socially innovative, according to this study, but two tech firms made the top 20: #17 Google and #18 Apple.  

The top 20 Social Innovation Index leaders will receive awards at the 2nd annual American Innovation Conference on October 3 at Fordham University, and include:  Honda, Toyota, John Deere, Ford, Navy Federal Credit Union, GM, Aflac, Chick-fil-A, Trader Joe’s, GE, USAA, Stanley Black and Decker, Weber, Ikea, Nissan, Hyundai, Google, Apple, Whirlpool, and LG. 

“Companies that are viewed as socially innovative by their customers achieve unique advantages in loyalty and word of mouth that ultimately contribute to long-term marketplace success,” said Lerzan Aksoy, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business.  “Because the Social Innovation Index is based on customer perceptions, it has a high level of objectivity and market validity that complements approaches that look at internal metrics to evaluate companies.” 

According to Gina Woodall, President of Rockbridge, “Companies not only need to be innovative in the eyes of their customers but should be viewed as socially innovative.  That is the difference between a transformative brand that is viewed as helping society and one that causes more social disruption than good.”  

About the American Innovation Index:

The Aii scores and ranks the customer-perceived innovativeness and social innovativeness of U.S. companies based on their customers’ experiences. The 2nd annual study was conducted in May 2019, and covers 174 firms from 21 industries, such as airlines, hotels, car rental companies, banks, TV and Internet service providers, wireless phone providers, manufacturers, retailers and utilities. The study surveyed 8,863 consumers and covered over 38,000 customer-company relationships. 

For more information about the Aii and a full list of company rankings, visit 

About Fordham University:

Fordham University offers exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition across nine schools. Fordham awards baccalaureate, graduate, and professional degrees to approximately 15,000 students.  

About the Norwegian School of Economics:

NHH Norwegian School of Economics, one of the leading business schools in Europe, launched the Norwegian Innovation Index in 2016 and partnered with Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business and Rockbridge Associates to replicate the methodology in the US.

About Rockbridge Associates, Inc.:

Rockbridge Associates, Inc. is an outcome-based market research firm that has been advising  Fortune 500s, mid-sized firms and non-profits on their innovation and marketing strategy for over two decades.

Gina Vergel
[email protected]
(646) 579-9957