Nearly Two-Thirds Of Americans Say The Retail Industry Has A Good Reputation

NEW YORK – Sixty-three percent of Americans say the retail industry has a good reputation, falling behind only the technology industry (78%), according to The Harris Poll® 2016 Reputation Quotient®(RQ®) Summary Report. The 17th annual study, released today, reveals corporate reputation ratings for the 100 most visible companies in the U.S., as perceived by the general public.

Twenty-three retailers¾across e-commerce, apparel, mass/club, drug, grocery and specialty categories¾appear on Harris Poll’s list of corporate reputation ratings with RQ scores ranging from “excellent” to “poor.”, the retailer with the strongest corporate reputation, reclaims first place on the overall list, marking the eighth consecutive year the e-commerce retailer has ranked in the RQ top ten and the sixth consecutive year it has been rated with “excellent” reputational strength. Retail reputational leaders across categories include: apparel – Nike; mass/club – Costco; drug – CVS; grocery – Publix Super Markets; and specialty – Lowe’s. The full ratings for the 100 most visible companies can be found in The Harris Poll 2016 Reputation Quotient Summary Report at

“The retail industry as a whole has maintained a strong reputation over the past four years, but The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient shows that when examining retailers individually, there is a varied landscape of reputational performance,” said Sarah Simmons, senior reputation consultant at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. “Amazon’s strong reputation, a gold standard for many, is driven by exceptional product offerings and an emotional connection with its customers.”

The RQ, an important baseline for managing reputation and identifying new market risks and opportunities, measures companies’ reputation strength based on the perceptions of more than 23,000 Americans across 20 attributes classified into six corporate reputation dimensions: Social Responsibility, Emotional Appeal, Products and Services, Vision and Leadership, Financial Performance, and Workplace Environment. The reputations of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. range from excellent (scores of 80+) to very poor (scores of 50 to 54).


The Harris Poll 2016 Reputation Quotient

Retailers Ranked Among the Top 100 Visible Companies in the U.S.

by Corporate Reputation Strength


RQ Rank

RQ Score


83.96, Excellent

Publix Super Markets


80.94, Excellent



79.53, Very Good



78.50, Very Good



77.65, Very Good



77.50, Very Good



77.49, Very Good



76.51, Very Good

Best Buy


76.46, Very Good

The Kroger Company


75.68, Very Good



75.58, Very Good

The Home Depot


75.55, Very Good



75.04, Very Good

Whole Foods Market


75.00, Very Good



74.88, Good



74.69, Good



74.24, Good

Hobby Lobby


73.37, Good



72.40, Good



70.88, Good



69.09, Fair



67.64, Fair

Sears Holding Corporation


64.69, Poor

According to the RQ report, Sears and Best Buy experienced the biggest gains in RQ scores, (+4.90 and +4.18, respectively) compared to other retailers.

“Sears and Best Buy’s reputational improvements could be attributed to the companies’ turn-around strategies; both companies made significant gains in Vision and Leadership, which includes attributes such as market opportunities, excellent leadership, and a clear vision for the future,” said Simmons. “With recent news of Sears’ store closings and Best Buy’s efforts to play catch up with their online strategy, however, 2016 could be a telling year for these traditionally brick and mortar organizations.”

Reputation Dimensions

According to the RQ study, retailers, on average, are strong performers with regard to their Products and Services. Individually, retail leaders excel in different reputational aspects. For example, Publix Super Markets receives high marks for its Workplace Environment, compared to other reputation dimensions, and consumers recognize Nike for its Vision and Leadership. Costco excels for its Financial Performance.

“In the face of a rapidly changing landscape, with new consumer demands and significant pressures from a variety of stakeholders, it’s critical for retailers to understand what drives their reputation to stay relevant and steadfast during challenging times,” said Simmons. “What helps retailers build a strong reputation are emotional appeal dimensions, such as trust, admiration and respect. And what drives that emotional appeal or what makes consumers feel good about retailers, are being a good company to work for, being truthful in marketing and advertising, maintaining high ethical standards, being accountable for their actions, and standing behind their products and services.”


The 2016 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Report was conducted online in English, among more than 23,000 U.S. respondents from November 13 – December 24, 2015, with preliminary nominating waves of research conducted among 4,078 respondents from September 8 -10 and October 6 – 8, 2015. The Annual RQ study begins with a Nomination Phase, which is used to identify the companies with the most “visible” reputations. All respondents are asked, unaided, to name companies that stand out as having the best and worst reputations. Online nominations are summed to create a total number of nominations for each company. The final list of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. is measured in the RQ Ratings Phase. In the ratings phase, respondents are randomly assigned to rate two of the companies with which they are “very” or “somewhat” familiar.  After the first company rating is completed, the respondent is given the option to rate the second company. Companies are rated on their reputation on 20 different attributes that comprise the Reputation Quotient instrument. The attributes are grouped into six different reputation dimensions: Emotional Appeal, Financial Performance, Products and Services, Social Responsibility, Vision and Leadership, and Workplace Environment.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll and sample partner surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in an online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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About The Harris Poll

Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Nielsen acquired The Harris Poll in 2014. Contact us for more information.

Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study results disclosed in this press release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll.

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