This year regional brick-and-mortar retailers are more prominent, and many once-leading American companies are noticeably absent from the 2012 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study, which asks the general public to measure the reputations of the 60 most visible companies in the country.
This year’s most reputable brand, Apple, benefits greatly from its hybrid status as a technology/consumer product/retail company, and earns the highest RQ score to secure the top spot in the ranking. It displaces Google — last year’s most reputable corporation, which now ranks second with a score of 82.82.
The Coca-Cola Company, ranked 15th in 2011, has surged into third place, despite any meaningful change in its reputation rating. Amazon.com moves up from eighth to fourth place and perennial reputation elite, Kraft Foods, ranked fifth.
“We are seeing the emergence of a group of companies that garner reputation equity by being positively associated with multiple industries,” said Robert Fronk, executive vice president and Global Corporate Reputation Practice Lead for Harris Interactive. “Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon.com combine innovation and leadership across multiple business areas, giving them true competitive advantage.”
In terms of year-over-year change, only Toyota, General Motors, BP, and Apple enjoy significant improvement in their RQ scores while one quarter of companies saw drastic declines. Among those with the most significant declines, five were financial institutions, including the 2010 top scorer, Berkshire Hathaway.[ Also Read: Facebook Going Public at Peak Valuation: NIA ]
RQ measures six dimensions that comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior. Apple has the greatest score overall. In fact, despite today’s challenging environment, Apple records the highest score in the RQ’s history, and is top-ranked in four of the six key dimensions of reputation:
- Social Responsibility – Whole Foods
- Emotional Appeal – Amazon.com
- Financial Performance – Apple
- Products & Services – Apple
- Vision & Leadership – Apple
- Workplace Environment – Apple
Interestingly, Amazon.com, which has no storefront and very limited human interaction, scores highest in the Emotional Appeal dimension — this is the core strength of its reputation.
In terms of supportive behavior, customers report considerable confidence in Amazon.com and several other companies:
- In the future, Americans would “definitely” purchase products & services from Amazon.com (71%), Kraft Foods (70%), and the Coca-Cola Company (64%).
- Americans would “definitely” recommend to others products & services from Amazon.com (64%) and Kraft Foods (57%).
- In the future Americans would “definitely” invest in stock from Amazon.com (34%), Microsoft (23%), and the Coca-Cola Company (23%).
- Americans would “definitely” recommend to others to invest in stock from Amazon.com (46%), the Coca-Cola Company (25%), and Microsoft (24%)
In its 13th consecutive year, The Annual RQ surveys more than 17,000 members of the American general public, utilizing its proprietary Harris Poll online panel.
Respondents are first asked to identify the 60 most visible companies and then surveyed to rate these companies based on their reputation on 20 different attributes that comprise the RQ instrument.
The attributes are then grouped into six different reputation dimensions: Emotional Appeal, Products & Services, Social Responsibility, Vision & Leadership, Workplace Environment, and Financial Performance.
In addition to the 20 attributes, the study includes a number of reputation-related questions that help provide a comprehensive understanding of public perceptions. The 2012 RQ survey was conducted from December 2, 2011 to December 19, 2011. The survey results were released Monday, Feb. 13.
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms.