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Regional grocer Wegmans Food Markets edged past mighty online retailer Amazon to capture the top spot for corporate reputation among the 100 most visible companies, the 16th annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study has found. Wegmans garnered an RQ score of 84.36.
Other food retailers and CPG companies that made the list were Costco, at No. 4 (RQ score of 81.69); Johnson & Johnson, at No. 5 (80.88); Kraft Foods, at No. 6 (80.83); Publix Super Markets, at No. 8 (80.73); CVS, at No. 14 (79.83); Kellogg Co., at No. 17 (79.25); Whole Foods Market, at No. 21 (78.47); Procter & Gamble, at No. 24 (78.08); Unilever, at No. 26 (77.80); General Mills, at No. 28 (76.88); Nestlé, at No. 30 (76.45); Starbucks Corp., at No. 31 (76.32); The Kroger Co., at No. 32 (76.29); The Coca-Cola Co., at No. 34 (75.89); PepsiCo, at No. 36 (75.59); Meijer, at No. 39 (75.37); Aldi, at No. 44 (74.78); Walgreens, at No. 54 (72.80); Target, at No. 63 (70.99); Safeway, at No. 67 (69.70); and Walmart, at No. 84 (65.05).
"Reputation is far from static and is a business asset that is earned every day as people evaluate companies through the lens of what matters most to them," noted Carol M. Gstalder, reputation and public relations practice leader for Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive, which expanded the list to 100 companies this year, up from 60, to provide deeper insight by industry. "Wegmans has spent years building a sterling reputation in the communities they serve, through its employees, one shopping experience at a time."
Scores of 80 and higher denoted excellent reputations, while companies with poor images earned scores of 50 to 64. Costco moved up two notches, from its No. 6 ranking last year, while Johnson & Johnson and Kraft both moved back into the top tier after falling out of it in 2014 and 2013 respectively.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola, whose reputation score is in the "very good" range, dropped 6.8 points this year, which Harris Poll attributed mainly to public perceptions of its products and declining intent to purchase.
For 2015, Harris Poll had each company rated by 100 Opinion Elites, a subsegment of the main survey respondents who are more informed, engaged, and likely to act according to corporate conduct and other reputation factors. Opinion Elites also placed Wegmans at No. 1, but ranked Johnson & Johnson at No. 4, Coca-Cola at No. 9 and Publix at No. 10.
In contrast to the general public, the Opinion Elite RQ score for Coca-Cola was high, with strongest performance on the reputation dimension of vision and leadership.
"The American public strongly believes reputation matters and acts on that belief," said Gstalder. "This year's results show that more than half of the public actively seeks out information about companies they hear about or do business with, and 36 percent say they've decided against doing business with a company because of something they learned about its conduct. Companies need to evaluate and understand the increasing expectations consumers have when it comes to corporate reputation, specifically what they think, say and do, as well as how best to engage with them."
The annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study was conducted online among 27,278 U.S. respondents Oct. 20-Dec. 18, 2014.