May 19, 2009
Consumer Products Companies Have the Best Reputation Among US Respondents to Survey
by Robert Kropp
Annual study by the Reputation Institute ranks Johnson & Johnson first in corporate reputation,
while companies in financial industries suffer the sharpest declines.
In its fourth annual Reputation Pulse Study of the 153 largest US companies, the Reputation Institute (RI) surveyed over 7,000 US
consumers and obtained more than 24,000 ratings by which it measured the corporate reputations of
the largest US companies engaged in commercial activities.
The results of the study were subsequently
published on the web
site of Forbes Magazine.
RI employed seven reputational dimensions in its study. It
assessed corporate reputation by rating the quality of a company's products and services, whether a
company sells innovative services or is innovative in the way it does business, the quality of the
workplace and treatment of employees, whether it behaves ethically and is transparent in its
disclosures, whether it supports good causes and protects the environment, the effectiveness of its
management, and its financial performance.
The RI study found that consumer products
companies have the best reputation among US consumers. In the current study, conducted in the
aftermath of the economic crisis, RI found that companies in the financial industries suffered the
most significant decreases in corporate reputation. The report also found that the energy and
telecommunications sectors continue to struggle with reputational issues.
Of the 153
companies studied, Johnson & Johnson displaced Google as the top-ranked US company, with a global
pulse score of 83.58. Johnson & Johnson finished in the top ten in six of the seven dimensions of
reputation. Rounding out the top five of companies in the US were Kraft Foods, UPS, General Mills,
and FedEx, each of which scored above 80. Google dropped to eighth in the rankings, with a score of
The largest gains in corporate reputation were earned by Dow Chemical and
Wal-Mart. Both companies improved by more than 12 points over their rankings in 2008. In 2009,
insurance giant AIG lost 27.52 points, the largest drop of any company ranked. Goldman Sachs lost
17 points, while Morgan Stanley dropped by 13 points.
The RI report found that over 65% of
respondents would recommend one of the top 10 companies to others, while 30% would not recommend
any of the bottom ten companies.
RI recommended that in order for companies to improve
their reputations, they should engage with such stakeholder as customers, investors, and employees,
in order to develop a framework for ongoing reputation management.
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