Grocery stores are riding reputational highs two years after the start of COVID-19 – with regional chains in particular being recognized for weathering the supply-chain storm. At the same time, the pandemic-era halo many industries enjoyed are beginning to normalize.
Those are among the insights of the Axios-Harris Poll 100, an annual ranking of the reputations of the most visible U.S. companies, which was released May 24.
Trader Joe’s, H-E-B Grocery, Patagonia, Hershey and Wegmans have the top-five best reputations in America on the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll 100 list.
Social media platforms and companies with missteps on social issues are the ones with the poorest reputations or that suffered the steepest declines. This year, Wish.com, Twitter, Facebook and Fox Corp. are at the bottom of the 23rd annual list, with poor reputations.
“As Americans move on from COVID, they are looking at corporate reputation through a more practical lens,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “Companies delivering on time and keeping their promises despite supply-chain issues are being held in high regard. Businesses that also do their part to create a better world – whether through sustainability or taking a stand on authentic social issues – also are being rewarded.”
The Axios-Harris Poll 100 has ranked reputation since 1999. The survey’s reputation quotient ranking is based on companies that are most visible to the general population and on their performance in seven key areas:
- Trust – “Is this a company I trust?”
- Vision – “Does this company have a clear vision for the future?”
- Growth – “Is this a growing company?”
- Products and Services – “Does this company develop innovative products and services that I want and value?”
- Culture – “Is this a good company to work for?”
- Ethics – “Does this company maintain high ethical standards?”
- Citizenship – “Does this company share my values and support good causes?”
“It’s back to basics with companies that offer quality products and are guided by steadfast values riding to the top,” said Mark Penn, Stagwell chairman and CEO. “Those that became enmeshed in political quagmires tended to be set back.”
This year, grocery dominates the top 100 list. Three grocers (Trader Joe’s, HEB Grocery and Wegmans) are in the top five. Two other grocery chains (Publix and Kroger) are among the top 25.
“The poll reinforces what we have seen on the ground with our local news product Axios Local,” said Jim VandeHei, co-founder and CEO of Axios. “To reestablish trust with a skeptical population, you have to start closer to home, making a real impact within local communities. Consumers reward brands that deliver a trusted product on time and as promised.”
Among the insights from this year’s study:
- Most visible: Amazon and Walmart are once again the two most visible companies in America, followed by Apple, Facebook, Google, Target, Nike, Microsoft, McDonald’s and AT&T.
- New to the list: Newly added to the 100 most visible companies list for the first time ever are Trader Joe’s, Spotify, Big Lots, Shein and Subway.
- Top 10: The most visible and most reputable companies – Trader Joe’s, H-E-B Grocery, Patagonia, Hershey, Wegmans, Samsung, Toyota, Amazon and Honda – are separated by only small degrees. All but Patagonia and Honda improved their reputations from last year’s highs.
- Industry movement: As the world moves out of the crisis phase of the pandemic, industries that saw massive reputations boosted by the crisis have returned to pre-pandemic levels. Consumer products dropped 12 points from 2021, returning to 2019 levels. Meanwhile, while the halo surrounding the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries is fading, both remain significantly above pre-pandemic levels.
“To excel at reputation, companies must deliver high marks on business performance, corporate character and trust,” said Ray Day, vice chair of Stagwell, which includes The Harris Poll. “While you can build a brand, you earn a reputation. Companies with strong reputations have a price advantage, a competitive advantage and a talent advantage. That’s why reputation needs to be a priority from the board room to the C-suite.”
The Axios Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 33,096 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted March 11-April 3. The two-step process starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter. These 100 “most visible companies” are then ranked by a second group of Americans across the seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking. If a company is not on the list, it did not reach a critical level of visibility to be measured.
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963. It is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times.
For more information, visit harrispoll.com.