Berkshire Hathaway, J&J top reputation charts

07 April 2010

NEW YORK: Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson and Google are among the companies which enjoy the best reputation with consumers in the US, according to a new report.

Harris Interactive, the research firm, surveyed 29,963 people to establish their perceptions of "corporate America", and to discover their views about 60 of the "most visible" organisations in the country.

It asked respondents to rate the featured companies in terms of their products and services, emotional appeal, vision and leadership, financial performance, workplace environment and social responsibility.

Berkshire Hathaway, the holding group led by Warren Buffet, headed the rankings with an index score of 82.3 points, an increase of 3.54 points when compared with the same study last year.

More specifically, it took pole position for both its managerial and financial credentials, and also came in the top five in terms of its emotional connection with consumers and the provisions in place for its staff.

Johnson & Johnson was in second place overall on 81.8 points, and was the most highly-regarded operator in terms of its CSR activity and the emotional bond it had forged with customers.

Google followed in third on 81.5 points, with its corporate vision and economic strength among the key factors informing the public's view of the search giant.

3M, which was seen as providing the best-quality products, captured fourth on 80.9 points, with SC Johnson a new entry in fifth on 80.8 points.

Intel, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Amazon and General Mills completed the top ten, with totals ranging from a peak of 80.1 points to a low of 79.46 points.

Elsewhere, Ford enjoyed the most significant uptick in popular perceptions on an annual basis, improving by 11.2 points as the automaker reacted to the substantial difficulties it has faced during the downturn.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bank of America, AIG, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup all saw figures fall by over four points in the same period.

The financial sector posted the lowest ratings on almost all of the metrics assessed, receiving a positive appraisal from just 11% of the sample, measured against 76% for technology firms and 52% for retailers.

When identifying the manufacturers from which they would "definitely" buy goods and services in the future, some 65% of contributors selected Amazon and Kraft, with Coca-Cola in third on 60%.

Amazon, Kraft and Johnson & Johnson were the companies participants were most likely to recommend to others, with UPS and Lowe's securing the most favourable feedback in terms of customer service.

Turning to communications, 80% of those polled regarded Disney's output as being distinctive, with 76% saying its marketing was sincere, 60% arguing it was consistent and 38% that it was transparent.

Apple recorded 76% when it came to achieving a high level of stand-out in this area of its operations, falling to 69% for sincerity, 62% for consistency and 36% for transparency.

Over three-quarters of panellists believed Coca-Cola's ads had a "common look and feel" and were "easily recognisable", while 70% agreed the soft drinks maker "provides consistent messages" across all formats.

Looking more broadly, 81% of consumers said the reputation of US corporations was "not good" or "terrible" at present, while 18% believed it was good, an improvement of 6% year-on-year.

Data sourced from Harris Interactive; additional content by Warc staff