From Amazon to HEB Grocery, Americans Appreciate Companies That Step in When the Government Falls Short

After Hurricane Harvey, HEB Grocery, with help from Florida-based Publix Super Markets, assisted in recovery efforts.

For the third consecutive year, Amazon has stayed at the top of The Harris Poll’s Reputation Quotient Study as the company with an “excellent” reputation.  It should come as no surprise given the current socio-political landscape and our new age of consumer activism. Disillusioned by the government, Americans are turning to private leaders to offer solutions and fill the void, rewarding companies that do and punishing ones that don’t.

Uber, for instance, paid dearly in February 2017 for turning off surge pricing for trips to New York’s JFK Airport during protests of the immigration ban. It, consequently, sparked the #DeleteUber protest, which led to over 200,000 people deleting their Uber accounts in outrage. Unsurprisingly, Uber appeared for the first time on the annual RQ list at #76. 

On the other hand, brands like HEB Grocery (debuted at #6) and Publix Super Markets (#8) embodied American goodwill, unity and altruism during two national disasters in their home states last year. After Harvey’s onslaught on Houston, Florida-based Publix Super Markets shipped water, generators and cleaning supplies to HEB, to assist the Texas-based grocer with their own relief efforts. HEB sent employees and supplies from San Antonio to clean out and reopen Houston stores and replenish supplies of fresh food, water and fuel. When Hurricane Irma struck Florida, HEB returned the favor by donating water and cleaning supplies to Publix. Also in 2017, Patagonia boycotted a major outdoor retailer trade show in Utah in response to the state’s resolution advising President Donald Trump to undo the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument.

As part of the Harris Poll’s RQ survey, we ranked companies based on their reputation in six different categories: Emotional Appeal, Products & Services, Social Responsibility, Vision & Leadership, Workplace Environment, and Financial Performance. Companies such as HEB and Publix are among the top 10 companies leading in social responsibility alongside others: Tesla Motors, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market, Chick-fil-A, Aldi, Lowe’s, Patagonia and UPS.

Consumers aren’t just acknowledging social responsibility, but also vision and leadership. Earlier this year, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan announced a partnership to cut healthcare costs and improve services for their U.S. employees. Both Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway were in the top 10 companies acknowledged by Americans for their vision and leadership.

Today’s buyers are more conscious of investing in brands that reflect their values. Consumers are no longer interested in being passive recipients of marketing messages. They are using their wallets to support brands that boldly take a stand.