One of my favorite “Annual Lists” each year comes from the very popular and insightful “corporate reputation” survey published by the Harris Poll folks. As in prior years, this year’s report offered a summary of Harris’ analysis of the responses of over 14,000 U.S. consumers to questions that span six major dimensions of corporate life that potentially impact consumer behavior: social responsibility; emotional appeal; products and services; workplace environment, financial performance; and vision/leadership. A score at or exceeding “80” is considered as rating that company as one with an “excellent reputation”, while a score between “75 and 79” rates as “a very good reputation”.
It its introduction to the survey (the fourteenth annual) Harris noted that the aggregate results were mixed. There was a lower level of strongly negative consumer perceptions, but also a diminishment in strongly positive reactions as well. This “muddled” nature is illustrated through the trend in the number of companies scoring 80 or higher the past three years: 2011: sixteen; 2012: eight; and 2013: just six! The aggregate score this year was lower than in previous years.
Here are the corporations with the highest reputations, starting with number ten and working upward:
For the 2013 survey, wholesale retailer COSTCO scored a decent 77.95, about 1.2 higher than during 2012. Last year it ranked nineteen.
NINTH: PROCTOR & GAMBLE
Long-time consumer products powerhouse, Proctor & Gamble, scored 77.98 for 2013, just one tenth a point less than last year, when it finished in fifteenth place. This year it moved up to the “Top Ten”
For the 2013 survey, the iconic Japanese company finished in eighth place, scoring 78.29, almost 1 point lower than 2012. It finished eleventh last year
SEVENTH: WHOLE FOODS
The high-end grocer/health food store, Whole Foods Market, finished seventh this year with a 78.65 score (about 1.5 points less than 2012). Last year it came in eighth.
SIXTH: COCA COLA
Often rated as the world’s best known brand, Coca-Cola finished the 2013 Harris Reputation Poll in sixth place, scoring 80.39. However, that was three rungs down and 1.6 points lower than they finished in 2012!
FIFTH: Johnson & Johnson
The world famous producer of health care and personal care products, Johnson & Johnson, finished in fifth for 2013 with a 80.95 score. This was .5 points higher and two spots higher than they rated in 2012!
Google, the world’s most popular search engine (and steadily building a treasure trove of other services and products), scored 81.32 for 2013 (1.5 points lower than last year. It also fell from #2 to #4 this year.
THIRD: WALT DISNEY CO.
The company I most associate with my childhood, while my 20-something sons associate with “Iron Man”, “The Avengers”, and now “Star Wars”, scored 82.12 (almost exactly the same as for 2012). It moved up three spots from sixth in 2012.
Apple lost quite a bit between 2012 and 2013: 1) about $300 in stock price; 2) unquestioned leadership in smart phones; and 3) founder Steve Jobs. It also lost over 3 points in its reputation poll score and fell from first (2012) to second place.
While scoring just .7 points higher than it did in 2012, Amazon moved up three spots to claim the coveted #1 ranking in corporate reputation. With an amazingly dominant market share in books, music, DVDs, etc. (but razor thin profit margins) Amazon has grown to be a brand known by virtually everyone in the U.S.