Companies that empowered consumers to protect their own health during the pandemic flourished as health and hygiene became America’s top priority.
Kroger’s corporate reputation is now among the top 10 in the nation, according to the latest Axios Harris Poll 100 survey of thousands of Americans.
The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain (NYSE: KR) ranked No. 9 among the most visible U.S. companies held in highest regard by the public – one spot below Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati-based maker of consumer goods such as Tide detergent (NYSE: PG).
Kroger improved 12 spots in the Axios Harris Poll 100, while P&G maintained the No. 8 spot. Both positions were rated as “very good,” while those ranked No. 7 or above were scored “excellent.”
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However, the pollsters noted that P&G’s corporate reputation had improved dramatically in recent years – moving from No. 54 on the list in 2017 to No. 20 in 2018 before reaching No. 8 in 2019 and retaining that spot in 2020.
General Electric, whose GE Aviation division is based in Evendale, was ranked No. 26 or “very good.”
Macy’s department stores, which had been based in Cincinnati as well as New York but recently closed its local headquarters, was No. 58. That was considered “good.”
“In this time of pandemic, consumers have higher expectations of corporate America – 79% expect a company’s leadership to respond to a crisis like Covid-19 or racial equality,” stated the Axios Harris Poll 100.
Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, said he was proud of the company’s employees, most of whom who work inside 2,757 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
“Throughout the public health crisis, our entire team of 500,000 associates has worked tirelessly to provide a safe environment for our customers and each other – with open stores, e-commerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain so that our communities have access to fresh, affordable food and essentials,” McMullen said in a statement.
Kroger trailed only No. 1 Clorox Co. among the best performers on a new measure of companies that have taken meaningful actions to address the challenges of Covid-19. No. 3 in that measure was Publix supermarkets.
Publix, Kroger and Clorox also were the top three performers, in that order, on a new measure of companies that have taken meaningful actions in support of racial equality.
Clorox is led by CEO Benno Dorer, who spent 14 years as a P&G employee. He began working at the Clorox headquarters in Oakland, Calif., while he was P&G’s global marketing director for new business development for fabric and home care. The two firms have a joint venture to produce Glad brand food storage containers and trash bags – even though Clorox competes with P&G on some home care and laundry products.
“Companies that empowered consumers to protect their own health during the pandemic flourished as health and hygiene became America’s top priority,” the Axios Harris Poll 100 stated. “The Clorox Co. ranked No. 1 for the first time – its only other appearance being 2016 at No. 14.
“Procter & Gamble, the maker of countless household and personal essentials – from Charmin and Bounty to Mr. Clean – ranks No. 8 overall as Americans look to keep their homes – and themselves – clean,” noted the Axios Harris Poll 100.
The Axios Harris Poll 100, which has ranked reputation since 1999, 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?”
P&G was No. 5 in the nation in the category of vision, while Kroger was No. 6. Amazon was No. 1 in that category, and Juul Labs was last at No. 100.
Kroger was No. 5 in the nation for ethics. Clorox was No. 1 in that category, and Monsanto was last at No. 100.
Kroger was No. 6 in the category for growth, while P&G was No. 10. Amazon was No. 1, and Juul Labs was last at No. 100.
P&G was No. 7 in the category based on reputation of products and services. Clorox was No. 1, and Juul Labs was last at No. 100.
Procter & Gamble was No. 9 in the citizenship category. Clorox was No. 1, and Juul Labs was in last at No. 100.
P&G was No. 10 in the category of best corporate culture, while Clorox was No. 1. Juul Labs was last at No. 100.
Kroger was No. 9 in the category of trust. Publix was No. 1, and Monsanto was last at No. 100.
The Axios Harris Poll 100 was based on a survey of 34,026 people. The two-step process starts 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 seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking.
In 2020, the survey was conducted twice – before and after the onset of the Covid pandemic. The 2020 rankings are based on the latest fielding in late June and early July.
At the bottom of the list with what were labeled as “poor” reputations were “companies that struggle with citizenship, ethics and trust,” the Axios Harris Poll 100 stated. That included Fox Corp. at No. 94 followed by Twitter, Wells Fargo, Facebook and Monsanto. At the very bottom, with what were labeled “very poor” reputations, were the Trump Organization at No. 99 and Juul Labs at No. 100.
“Reputation is the most valuable asset a company has,” said Ray Day, vice chair of the Stagwell Group, which includes the Harris Poll. “Companies with better reputations have a price advantage, a competitive advantage and greater stability. Highly regarded companies also are more likely to attract and retain talent, garner better partners and recover faster from reputational harm.”
The Harris Poll is part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm. Axios is a digital media company.
This year, “many companies trended upward in the areas of logistics, digital-led delivery and home services, health care and food,” the Axios Harris Poll 100 stated. “Conversely, social media, airlines, clothing retailers and firms embroiled in scandal, poor leadership or acting against the public’s interest all faltered. This year above others, ethics mattered.”