Case Study • 1 min Read
NEW YORK (May 13, 2021) – Companies with a clear point of view and that deliver not only great products but also an impact on society have the best reputations. 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 today.
Patagonia, Honda, Moderna, Chick-fil-A and SpaceX have the top-five best reputations in America on the 2021 Axios-Harris Poll 100 list.
Companies that struggle with ethics, culture and trust – especially data privacy – are the ones also struggling with reputation. This year, The Trump Organization, Fox, Facebook, Wish.com and Sears are at the bottom of the 22ndannual list, with poor reputations.
“Products, performance and – more than ever – purpose are driving the reputations of America’s top companies and their leaders,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll. “Today, data privacy is separating ‘good tech’ from social platforms, Americans are burning out on streaming overload, and pharma continues to set the benchmark for companies championing innovation to solve some of society’s toughest challenges.”
The Axios-Harris Poll 100 has ranked reputation since 1999. The survey’s Reputation Quotient (RQ) ranking is based on company performance is 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?”
“With the end of the pandemic in the U.S. in sight, this year’s Axios-Harris Poll 100 reflects how we have evolved far beyond business as usual. Today’s consumer is more digitally connected and more purpose-driven than ever, and that dramatically affects what it takes to excel in marketing, communications and reputation,” said Mark Penn, chairman and CEO of MDC Partners; president and managing partner of The Stagwell Group; and chairman of The Harris Poll.
“The results of the poll bear out what we’ve been seeing at Axios, particularly among advertisers,” said Jim VandeHei, co-founder and CEO of Axios. “Companies that advertise around corporate social responsibility and purpose is a hot trend right now. Messages about values not only boost a company’s reputation, but they also help with recruiting talent, especially among younger workers that care more about what a company stands for.”
Among the insights from this year’s study:
- Most visible: Amazon and Walmart are the two most visible companies in America today, followed by Apple, Facebook, Google, Target, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Nike and McDonald’s.
- New to the list: Newly added to the 100 most visible companies list this year are Moderna, SpaceX, Chewy, REI, Subaru, In-n-Out Burger, Wayfair, Kaiser Permanente, Goya, Reddit, Robinhood, GameStop, Huawei, My Pillow, TikTok and Wish.
- Top 10: The most visible and most reputable companies – Patagonia, Honda, Moderna, Chick-fil-A, SpaceX, Chewy, Pfizer, Tesla, Costco and Amazon – are separated by only small degrees, they do well in nearly every reputation category, and it is continuous reputation improvement that keeps most of them at the top – with Amazon the exception. Amazon is the only company in the top 10 with a reputation decline from last year.
- Industry movement: Consumer packaged goods and financial services are the 2021 major gainers among all companies in all business sectors. Tech is in reputation decline again – with Google (down 5.03%) one of the biggest year-over-year decliners, along with TikTok, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. Apple is the only major tech company advancing in reputation – with an impressive 2.82% year-over-year gain.
- Vaccine performers: The pharmaceutical industry remains strong following COVID with two major standouts – Moderna is new on the list with an excellent reputation, and Pfizer posted the largest year-over-year reputation gain of any company at 9.86%. Johnson & Johnson’s reputation is much lower than Moderna and Pfizer – with flat year-over-year performance.
- Big Oil: The major oil companies improved or stabilized – with BP up 4.04% and ExxonMobil steady.
- Airlines: Performance is mixed – with Delta down 3.98% but United Airlines up 1.05%. Relatedly, Boeing – the biggest decliner last year – rebounds with an improvement of 4.05%.
- Streaming wars: The streaming services are declining – with Hulu down 1.08% and Netflix down 2.54%.
- The Musk touch: Elon’s companies are doing well – with SpaceX and Tesla both in the top 10 of all companies on reputation and Tesla up 2.66% year over year.
- Biggest year-over-year improvements: Pfizer (9.86%), Dollar General (8.79%), Patagonia (8.69%), Hobby Lobby (6.20%), JCPenney (4.48%), Unilever (4.39%), Trump Organization (4.37%), eBay (4.36%), BP (4.04%) and Bank of America (4.0%).
- Biggest year-over-year declines: Fox (-6.14%), TikTok (-5.21%), Google (-5.03%), Adidas (-4.63%), Delta Air Lines (-3.98%), Sears (-3.95%), Yum! Brands (-3.90%), Publix Supermarkets (-3.72%), Uber (-3.68%) and Procter & Gamble (-3.59%).
“This year’s reputation list reflects the ‘new normal’ for business. To excel today, companies must deliver high marks on all three core drivers of reputation: business performance, corporate character and trust,” said Ray Day, vice chair of The Stagwell Group, which includes The Harris Poll. “More than ever, leading companies take building reputation very seriously. That’s because reputation makes up a third or more of a company’s market capitalization, and companies with better reputations have a price advantage, a competitive advantage and a talent advantage.”
The Axios Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 42,935 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted April 8-21, 2021. The two-step process starts fresh each year by surveying the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter in society. 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.
John Gerzema, CEO, The Harris Poll [email protected]
Ray Day, Vice Chair, Stagwell [email protected]
About The Harris Poll
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. We work with clients in three primary areas: building 21st century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. Learn more by visiting www.harrispoll.com and follow Harris Poll on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Axios is a digital media company launched in 2017. Axios – which means “worthy” in Greek – helps you become smarter, faster with news and information across politics, tech, business, media, science and the world. Subscribe to our newsletters at axios.com/newsletters and download our mobile app at axios.com/app.
The Stagwell Group is the first and only independent, digital-first and fully integrated organization of size and scale servicing brands across the continuum of marketing services. Collaborative by design, Stagwell is not weighed down by legacy points of view, and its people are united in their desire to innovate, evolve, grow and deliver superior results for their clients. Stagwell’s high-growth brands include experts in four categories: digital transformation and marketing, research and insights, marketing communications, and content and media.
About MDC Partners
MDC Partners is one of the most influential marketing and communications networks in the world. As “The Place Where Great Talent Lives,” MDC Partners is celebrated for its innovative advertising, public relations, branding, digital, social and event marketing agency partners, which are responsible for some of the most memorable and effective campaigns for the world’s most respected brands. By leveraging technology, data analytics, insights and strategic consulting solutions, MDC Partners drives creative excellence, business growth and measurable return on marketing investment for over 1,700 clients worldwide. For more information about MDC Partners and its partner firms, visit our website and follow us on Twitter.
Subscribe for more Insights
Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest trends in business, politics, culture, and more.