Harris study: Amazon retains top spot as most reputable company

Amazon.com is the most reputable company in the US for the second year in a row, according to the Harris Poll's 15th annual Reputation Quotient study.

NEW YORK: Amazon.com is the most reputable company in the US for the second year in a row, according to the Harris Poll's 15th annual Reputation Quotient study.

The study, conducted between December 2013 and January 2014, surveyed more than 18,000 members of the US general public, measuring reputations of the 60 most visible companies in the country. 

Leading the list of corporate companies with the best reputation was: Amazon.com, which also topped the list last year; The Coca-Cola Company; Apple; The Walt Disney Company; Honda Motor Company; Costco; Samsung; and Whole Foods Market.

The study measured six dimensions that comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior. Amazon.com led in emotional appeal, products and services, and workplace environment, while Coca-Cola topped the chart for financial performance and vision and leadership, and Whole Foods led in social responsibility.

In the last year, 25% more people believe that corporate America’s reputation has improved, and that figure has doubled since 2012, according to the survey.

"The economy is certainly improving and in general when you get better financial conditions there is a better overall sense of feeling good about the corporate environment, but it is still not completely positive," said Robert Fronk, Nielsen’s SVP of reputation management and public affairs.

Nielsen acquired global market research firm Harris Interactive in February, and Fronk is now leading a newly created service offering for reputation measurement and management services.

More than half of those surveyed said they proactively research companies they have heard of or plan to do business with in the future. The firm identified this group, which makes up 56% of the participants, as "seekers."

About 60% of seekers decide not to do business with a company based on how it conducts itself; 47% try to influence others’ perceptions based on what they learn about a company; and 39% share what they learn about a company through social media and email.

"Our study results show that although companies work so hard on building new business programs, 40% of the public can be dismissive of your company before they have ever even thought about your product or services," said Fronk.

He added that the seekers segment appears to be overlooked by marketers in terms of the potential impact they can have on business.

The seekers group look for information on a company’s website, which is why Fronk said he recommends that, before working on campaigns, companies should clearly articulate their social purpose and align product stories to it.

"Amazon.com has that clear and accessible social value message in all of its materials, which drives a huge leadership advantage in emotional appeal," said Fronk. "Therefore from that perspective of good feelings about the company, [Amazon is] able to seamlessly make its product offering the logical choice for so many consumers."

This story was updated on April 30 to correct the name of the survey to the Harris Poll. Harris Interactive was acquired by Nielsen in February.

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