NEW YORK, April 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- As the U.S. economic recovery continues to show signs of improvement, the number of people who believe corporate America's reputation has improved has increased 25 percent over 2013 and doubled that in 2012, according to the 2014 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient® (RQ) study, which surveys more than 18,000 members of the U.S. general public to measure the reputations of the 60 most visible companies in the country.
While the overall perception of U.S. companies indicates room for improvement, the American public is slowly but steadily gaining confidence in corporate America. According to the RQ study, people now view corporate America more positively than they did prior to the start of the economic decline in 2008.
Another positive signal that the public's faith in corporate America is being restored is an overall increase in RQ scores across the board. This year, scores ranged from 83.87 (Amazon.com) to 55.34 (Bank of America), with no companies falling in the "very poor" or "critical" stage. This marks the first time since 2007 that no companies in the study received a "critical" stage RQ score of less than 50.
Despite the positive improvements in reputation, Americans remain apprehensive about corporate use of digital information. Overall, more than three-quarters (76%) of the general public is concerned about the amount of private information companies capture about their customers and less than half (44%) trust companies to act responsibly with such information.
"The fact that the public's overall perception of U.S. companies is bouncing back to levels not seen since the financial collapse is encouraging, particularly for companies and industries that were perceived to have played a role in the collapse," said Robert Fronk, senior vice president, Nielsen Reputation Management and Public Affairs. "The window appears to have opened for more companies to identify and leverage what uniquely drives their reputation and stronger business performance."
The Harris Poll RQ study measures six dimensions that comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior. The dimensions and 2014 leaders in each are:
- Emotional Appeal – Amazon.com
- Financial Performance – The Coca-Cola Company
- Products & Services – Amazon.com
- Social Responsibility – Whole Foods Market
- Vision & Leadership – The Coca-Cola Company
- Workplace Environment – Amazon.com
Nine companies achieved RQ scores above 80, the standard for "excellent" reputation. Topping the list again in 2014 is Amazon.com, which continues to transcend physical boundaries and dominate three of the six reputation dimensions measured in the survey – Emotional Appeal, Products and Services, and Workplace Environment. Gaining high marks for attributes including trust, admiration and respect, high quality products and services, innovation and being a good place to work, this is Amazon's 6th consecutive year with an excellent rating.
The Coca-Cola Company jumped from 6th to 2nd place this year and is the only company to be ranked in the top five on all six reputation dimensions. Demonstrating a nearly unmatched show of reputation consistency, The Coca Cola Company's RQ score has hovered around 80 for all 15 years of the study.
Perhaps one of the most significant increases of the year is the Honda Motor Company, which jumped from the 25th spot in 2013 to rank in the top five this year. With an increase of 6.7 points, this puts Honda back in the top 10 for the first time since 2007. Honda's rise is reflective of the automotive industry, which has seen an 11 percent increase in positive ratings since 2012.
On the tech front, Samsung, a relative newcomer to the RQ most visible companies list after appearing for the first time in 2012, landed in 7th place and achieved its first ever excellent rating of over 80. Microsoft jumped from spot 15 to 9, achieving its 11th excellent rating in the last 15 years.
Four of the top five biggest improvements came from companies in the financial services sector. AIG led the industry with an increase of 9.7 points while Goldman Sachs had the second largest jump, up 8.7 points compared to last year.
"While there has been an overall uptick in the positive perceptions of U.S. companies, it is still critically important for companies to carefully manage their reputations," said Fronk. "Nearly six out of ten survey respondents proactively seek information on a company before they do business with them and nearly five in ten try to influence the perceptions of family and friends based upon what they learn. Transparency and clear and honest communication, coupled with a proactive and focused approach to reputation management, is what sets apart the reputation elite."
Reputation Quotient Methodology
In its 15th consecutive year, the annual RQ study surveys more than 18,000 Americans (includes nomination and rating phases) of the American general public, utilizing its proprietary online panel. Respondents are first asked to identify the 60 most visible companies and then surveyed to rate these companies based on their reputation on 20 different attributes that comprise the RQ instrument. The attributes are then grouped into six different reputation dimensions: Emotional Appeal, Financial Performance, Products & Services, Social Responsibility, Vision & Leadership and Workplace Environment. In addition to the 20 attributes, the study includes a number of reputation-related questions that help provide a comprehensive understanding of public perceptions. The 2014 Harris Poll RQ study was conducted from December 23, 2013 to January 6, 2014, with preliminary nominating waves of research conducted in October and November of 2013. For more information on the 2014 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient® study, visit http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/reports/2014/the-reputations-of-the-most-visible-companies.html.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient® study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll.
Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
About Nielsen & The Harris Poll
On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.
Catherine Carlson Kadar
Gibbs & Soell Business Communications
SOURCE Harris Poll