Wegmans, L.L Bean Rank Among Companies With The Best Reputations

Wegmans, L.L Bean Rank Among Companies With The Best Reputations

by / May 13, 2015

Goldman Sachs has the worst reputation of any major American company. Upstate New York-based grocery chain Wegmans is the most highly-regarded company. Also notably, Samsung surpassed Apple this year as the technology company with the best reputation, and Amazon.com moved to second overall after occupying the top spot in the previous two years.

The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient, measures public opinion of the nation’s most recognizable companies. Respondents were asked to rate companies based on six components: emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, workplace environment, social responsibility, and financial performance. These are the companies with the best (and worst) reputations.

Click here to see the companies with the best reputations.

A company’s public image often reflects that of its industry. “Industries do certainly have their own reputations,” explained Aneysha Pearce, vice president of consulting reputation management and public affairs at Nielsen. Pearce added that the public image of an industry can affect a specific company’s reputation, either positively or negatively.

This is likely one reason many of the companies with the worst reputations are in the financial services sector, including Bank of America, AIG, and Goldman Sachs. These banks, which many blame for directly contributing to the financial crisis, are still struggling to regain the public’s trust. The financial sector received a score of 35 out of 100. Any score below 50 is considered a “critical” reputation.

On the other end of the spectrum, technology companies make up what is by far the best-performing sector in this study. On average, companies in this industry scored 77 overall — considered “very good.” By comparison, the next-highest industry — travel and tourism — scored 62.

One reason technology companies perform so well, while oil, financial services, and healthcare companies do not, may have to do with how we use their products. “The products and services provided by these companies often make your life easier, are fun and essential to our productivity, and in many ways create positive experiences for consumers,” according to Pearce. Government, energy and financial services companies, on the other hand, offer relatively mundane products and services.

While industry reputation is a factor, a company’s reputation can still be traced to its practices. Companies with terrible reputations such as Koch Industries, Monsanto, and Dish Network are hated in large part for behaviors many consider reprehensible. Whether its gross environmental violations, perceived corruption, or consistently abysmal customer service, these companies have earned their poor reputations.

Meanwhile, some companies have been able to transcend their industry’s middling reputation. Amazon.com, for example, scored second overall, beating the retail industry average by well over 20 points. According to Harris Poll, the company’s success was “driven by breadth and quality of products, customer centricity and public trust.”

Many companies with the best reputations are also favorably regarded for their quality customer service, just as customers of the companies with the worst reputations often report some of the worst customer satisfaction scores. All of the most favorably regarded companies had better customer satisfaction scores than their respective industry averages.

On the other hand, not only did the companies with the worst reputations generally fare worse in their respective industries, but also they operated in industries that were themselves rated poorly for customer service. Three of the 10 companies with the worst reputations had among the five, worst customer service scores, as measured by Zogby Analytics.

To determine America’s most and least reputable companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed reputation scores among the nation’s 100 most recognizable companies from the 2015 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ), produced by Harris Interactive, a subsidiary of Nielsen. The study consists of two parts: a nominations stage in which consumers identify the nation’s most visible companies, followed by a ratings stage in which each company’s reputation is measured on a scale of 0-100. In addition, we considered company consumer satisfaction scores from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), customer service ratings based on a 24/7 Wall St.-commissioned Zogby Analytics poll, and company information and financial performance from SEC filings.

10. Google
> Reputation score: 80.4
> 2014 score: 78.4
> Industry: Technology
> CEO: Lawrence E. Page

Of the six reputation dimensions, Google was rated best for its workplace environment. In the competitive tech industry, Google offers numerous employee perks to attract the most qualified workers in a limited applicant pool. In addition to health insurance and benefits, Google offers on-campus amenities such as exercise facilities, as well as free legal advice and reimbursements for further education. Google’s good reputation extends beyond its workforce. According to the ACSI, Google users were more satisfied with Google’s offerings than they were with most other Internet portals and search engines. The Internet behemoth reported revenues of more than $66 billion in 2014 — one of the largest figures in the world and up substantially from the previous year.

9. Apple
> Reputation score: 80.7
> 2014 score: 81.8
> Industry: Technology
> CEO: Timothy D. Cook

While Apple’s reputation among survey respondents fell slightly from last year’s third place, and even further from its first place position in 2012, it is still one of the most favored companies in the nation. Of the six reputation dimensions, the company was rated best for its vision and leadership, trailing only Wegmans Food Markets. The growing popularity and sales of Apple’s products are likely linked to the company’s stellar reputation. According to a Pew Research Center study in 2013, more than half of Americans owned smartphones, a significant portion of which — particularly among people with high incomes — were iPhones. According to Pearce, the iPhone is generally regarded as a high-quality product, but many also regard Apple’s products as overpriced. Apple reported revenues of $182.8 billion in its fiscal 2014, one of the largest sales figures in the world and up from the previous year.


8. Publix Supermarkets
> Reputation score: 80.7
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Supermarket
> CEO: William E. Crenshaw

Publix Supermarkets is one of several companies with the best reputations operating in the retail food industry. It’s the company’s first appearance in the top 10 on the Harris Interactive survey. According to the company’s website, it is the largest employee-owned grocery chain and one of the largest supermarkets nationwide. At the end of 2014, Publix employed 175,000 people, and according to employee rankings at Glassdoor.com, it was recognized as one of the 50 best places to work. The supermarket’s customers also approve of the company. Publix was a long-time leader among U.S. supermarket chains for customer satisfaction. While it fell to third place last year, behind Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, it still has the third-best overall customer satisfaction score.


7. L.L. Bean
> Reputation score: 80.8
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Clothing retailer
> CEO: Christopher J. McCormick

No other retail apparel company had a better reputation than L.L. Bean. The outdoor clothing retailer was one of the top five companies in two of the six reputation dimensions — emotional appeal and workplace environment. While L.L. Bean is not included in the ACSI, it was ranked first for customer satisfaction by two other research firms, StellaService and ForeSee. L.L. Bean, based in Maine, is over 100 years old and its long history has perhaps solidified its strong reputation among the general public. In addition, many L.L. Bean fans likely appreciate the company’s return-anything policy.

6. Kraft
> Reputation score: 80.8
> 2014 score: 78.8
> Industry: Food and beverage
> CEO: John T. Cahill

Kraft has improved its reputation significantly, moving from 12th overall in 2013 and 2014 to sixth this year. The consumer packaged food and beverage company is not in the top five in any single dimension of reputation. This means that Kraft performs well across the board, but not exceptionally in any one category. In March, Kraft made a major splash by announcing a merger with famed ketchup manufacturer Heinz. After the deal was announced, the company’s shares jumped more than 30%. Last month, the company announced it would drop the use of preservatives from its kids table and dormroom-favorite macaroni and cheese. The merger and the preservatives announcements could both give the company a boost in next year’s Reputation Quotient.


5. Johnson & Johnson
> Reputation score: 80.9
> 2014 score: 77.7
> Industry: Pharmaceutical
> CEO: Alex Gorsky

Johnson & Johnson is the fifth-largest pharmaceutical company and the sixth-largest consumer health company in the world, according to the company’s website. J&J’s reputation suffered in recent years due to massive recalls, including of over-the-counter medications Benadryl and Children’s Tylenol. Since then, however, the company seems to have recovered in the eyes of the general public. Founded in 1887, J&J is one of the older companies on this list, and many Americans likely associate a variety of household products with the company. J&J posted profits of $16.3 billion in 2014, up from the year before.

4. Costco
> Reputation score: 81.7
> 2014 score: 80.8
> Industry: Retailer
> CEO: W. Craig Jelinek

In 2014, Costco employed 195,000 full- and part-time employees worldwide. Costco customers were more satisfied than any other company operating in the specialty retail industry, with an ACSI score of 84 — an especially high score both in and outside the industry. A significant portion of the company’s revenues are generated through membership fees, and Costco members seem to enjoy the business model. Costco’s member renewal rate was 91% in the United States and Canada. The wholesale warehouse store ranked among the best five companies in three of the six reputation dimensions: emotional appeal, products and services, and workplace environment.

3. Samsung
> Reputation score: 82.0
> 2014 score: 80.7
> Industry: Technology
> CEO: Oh-Hyun Kwon

Samsung’s reputation rank improved significantly this year, surpassing its main competitor Apple, which fell to ninth overall. Just two years ago, Samsung was ranked 13th, while Apple’s reputation was ranked first. The company’s Galaxy series of phones and tablets has been a stunning success and has driven some customers away from Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Samsung owes its high reputation rank to nearly across-the-board high scores in the reputation quotient. It ranks in the top five in four of the reputation dimensions: emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, and financial performance. In 2014, Samsung scored higher than any other cell phone manufacturer in the ACSI.

2. Amazon
> Reputation score: 83.7
> 2014 score: 83.9
> Industry: Retailer
> CEO: Jeffrey P. Bezos

Like several other companies with the best reputations, Amazon.com is regarded very favorably among the general public and is very successful financially. It is the top-scoring company for customer satisfaction among Internet retailers. The 10-year old retail behemoth posted revenues of roughly $89.0 billion last year, up from the previous year — the online retailer has been growing dramatically for years. Despite the growth, the company posted a sizable loss of $241 million in fiscal 2014. Yet, ordinary consumers are not the only people who favor Amazon.com. Because many on Wall Street view the company’s losses as temporary and resulting from CEO Jeff Bezos’ long-term strategy of favoring expansion over short-term gains, Amazon.com’s stock price has shot up nearly 35% year to date.

1. Wegmans
> Reputation score: 84.4
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Supermarket
> CEO: Daniel R. Wegman

Considering that the companies ranked by the reputation quotient are first identified based on being well-known, it is remarkable Wegmans makes it on the list at all, let alone scores first overall. The Rochester, NY-based supermarket chain was locally located for some time, and even now can only be found in just six states. Still, the overwhelmingly positive reputation of the chain, which boasts numerous accolades for its food selection, customer service, and workplace environment, has placed it as the company with the best reputation. “You tend to have a love/hate relationship with your grocer, I think. You either love them, or you view them as a necessary evil,” Pearce said. With Wegmans, it is clearly the former.

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