– Mark Dolliver, Adweek
In its annual rankings of the “Reputation Quotient” of the 60 most visible companies in the U.S., Harris Interactive found respondents picking Berkshire Hathaway as the one with the best reputation. Filling out the top 10 were Johnson & Johnson, Google, 3M, SC Johnson, Intel, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Amazon.com and General Mills.
At the bottom of the Reputation Quotient standings were Freddie Mac, AIG, Fannie Mae, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Chrysler, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Delta Air Lines. Harris notes in its analysis of the findings that “the nine lowest companies all have received government/bailout money or currently remain government-supported.” Though it fell into the middle of the pack, at No. 37, Ford. — which conspicuously did not take a federal bailout — was notable for having achieved the biggest one-year increase in Reputation Quotient score of any company in the past nine years.
The ratings are based on respondents’ opinions of the degree to which companies embody (or don’t) 20 attributes, ranging from “value for money” to “environmental responsibility” to “record of profitability.” These 20 are grouped under six general headings: “emotional appeal,” “products and services,” “workplace environment,” “financial performance,” “vision and leadership” and “social responsibility.” Polling was fielded from late December through mid-February.
• Top scorers in the “emotional appeal” category were J&J, Amazon, SC Johnson, Berkshire Hathaway and General Mills.
• Leading the “products and services” standings were 3M, Intel, Google, J&J and SC Johnson.
• The “social responsibility” rankings were led by J&J and “workplace environment” by Google.
• Berkshire Hathaway was the top scorer for both “vision and leadership” and “financial performance.”
Respondents’ overall view of the reputation of “corporate America” is anything but positive.
Asked to select the description they think best describes the corporate sector’s reputation, a mere 1 percent picked “It’s great, can’t get any better.” Eighteen percent chose “It’s good, solid — but there’s still room for improvement.” On the other side of the spectrum, 66 percent said “It’s not good, but there’s still hope for it to improve,” while 15 percent said “It’s terrible, and there’s not much it can do to improve.” The sum of the negative votes (81 percent) is down from last year (when it was 88 percent), though the “terrible” vote rose by a percentage point in the new survey.
In a breakdown of the findings by industry, the technology sector fared best, getting positive ratings from 72 percent of those surveyed. The other industries getting positive ratings from majorities of respondents were travel/tourism and retail (52 percent each). At the bottom of the standings were tobacco (11 percent) and financial services (16 percent). Despite its travails, the auto industry (rated positively by 25 percent) scored better than airlines (24 percent) or insurance (23 percent), and not much worse than pharmaceuticals (29 percent).
When asked whether they would “definitely” purchase a company’s products or services in the future, respondents gave the most votes to amazon.com, followed by Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola, J&J and General Mills.