Along with its decline in dollars-and-cents terms, the corporate sector has suffered a steep decline in public esteem. A Harris Interactive report released today shows "the overall reputation of corporate America" at the lowest point in the 10-year history of the research firm's annual "Reputation Quotient" polls. Eighty-eight percent of respondents rated the reputation of corporate America today as "not good" or "terrible." Still, Americans have not become indiscriminately hostile toward the corporate sector, and the polling finds that some companies—Johnson & Johnson foremost among them—remain well-regarded.
The Reputation Quotient polling first determines the 60 "most visible" companies and then rates them based on attributes that fall within six categories: emotional appeal, products and services, social responsibility, vision and leadership, workplace environment and financial performance. Based on an amalgam of the scores in these categories, the best Reputation Quotient performer was Johnson & Johnson, giving that company its eighth No. 1 showing in 10 years. Filling out the top 10 were Google, Sony, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Amazon.com, Microsoft, General Mills, 3M and Toyota Motor.
At the bottom of the rankings, counting up from No. 60, were AIG, Halliburton, General Motors, Chrysler, Washington Mutual, Citigroup, Citgo Oil, Merrill Lynch, ExxonMobil and Ford Motor. Wal-Mart, Sony and AT&T posted the biggest gains in their ratings since the prior year's polling. The sharpest drops in reputation ratings went to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.
Among the polling's male respondents, the five top-ranked companies were Google, Sony, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota and Berkshire Hathaway. Women's top five were Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Sony, Coca-Cola and General Mills. In a breakdown by age, 18-39-year-olds gave Google, Sony, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and 3M the best scores. Tops among the 40-54-year-olds were Johnson & Johnson, Whole Foods, Coca-Cola, Disney and Amazon.com. Respondents age 55 and older put Johnson & Johnson atop their rankings, followed by Sony, Microsoft, General Mills and Kraft Foods.
One reason for Johnson & Johnson's strong overall Reputation Quotient standing is that it was among the top-rated companies in five of the six categories of attributes about which respondents were asked. It ranked No. 1 in the "emotional appeal" and "financial performance" categories, and ranked No. 2 in "products and services," "social responsibility" and "workplace environment." Sony had the best score in the "products and services" category; Whole Foods topped the "social responsibility" ratings; Berkshire Hathaway led the "vision and leadership" rankings; Google was No. 1 for "workplace environment."
One section of the polling asked respondents whether the economic crisis has left them more likely or less likely to buy from or use the services of specific companies than was the case a year earlier. Wal-Mart topped the list of companies respondents said they're now more likely to patronize, followed by Amazon.com, Costco, Target and Berkshire Hathaway. Leading the list of companies with which respondents are now less likely to do business were AIG, Merrill Lynch, General Motors, Washington Mutual and Citigroup.
Polling to determine the list of the 60 most visible companies was conducted last September and October; polling to determine the reputation ratings was fielded at the end of December through early February.