NEW YORK: Netflix has the best corporate reputation among U.S. companies, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Reputation Institute.
The streaming giant was unaffected by the rest of the tech industry’s downward trend. Amazon, which held the top spot from 2014 to 2017, dropped out of the top 50; Google fell 63 spots out of the top 100; and the only company scored by the Reputation Institute with a lower score than Facebook was the Trump Organization.
"The tech sector has been under major pressure," said Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer at Reputation Institute. "Things like trust issues, data-privacy breaches, ethical standards; when you don’t have those things, they work against you in terms of your reputation."
Netflix benefitted from "doing the right thing" in response to #MeToo allegations against Kevin Spacey, he added. After more than 30 men accused the actor of sexual misconduct, the company pulled the plug on unreleased content featuring the "House of Cards" star, costing it $39 million, according to Reuters.
"It was truly the only company that took decisive action," Hahn-Griffiths said. "Notwithstanding, it’s a company that’s reinvented itself from being a tech-based internet-content-delivery machine to a creator of world-class content. Those two things combined have translated into an unprecedented reputational gain."
Some tech companies’ corporate reputations suffered despite popular services because they couldn’t resonate with customers. Hahn-Griffiths pointed to Amazon, saying it delivers on its promises to customers, but its brand fell short because it lacks an emotional element.
In contrast, Amazon’s one-time archrival, Barnes & Noble, retained its top 10 position. The only other corporation in the top 10 last year and this year was the Hershey’s Company.
Barnes & Noble, which itself has been disrupted by e-commerce, shed the image of a mega-corporation shutting down family-owned bookstores, a la "You’ve Got Mail."
"Barnes & Noble is a brand that’s really based on nostalgia because of heritage and what the bookstore represented," Hahn-Griffiths said. "It’s made inroads as a way back machine, a place of comfort for individuals where they can go and be inspired by books."
Following Netflix in the top 10 are Hershey, Whirlpool, Rolex, McCormick, Barnes & Noble, Hasbro, Costco, Nintendo, and Lego.
The 2019 RepTrak U.S. 100 measured the reputations of more than 2,200 companies, using 167,000-plus individual ratings. It was conducted in January and February.