NEW YORK: Online retailer Amazon has lost its spot as the company with the best corporate reputation among the public to a small upstate New York grocer.

In the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study – conducted online, in English, among 27,278 US respondents who rated the 100 most "visible" businesses on 20 different attributes – Wegmans Food Markets, an 85-store chain based in Rochester, New York and making its first appearance in the rankings, took the top spot.

Its RQ score of 84.36 put it just ahead of Amazon on 83.72. Consumer electronics business Samsung was in third place on 81.98, with warehouse club Costco (81.69) and personal care brand Johnson & Johnson (80.88) rounding out the top five.

"Reputation is far from static and is a business asset that is earned every day as people evaluate companies through the lens of what matters most to them," observed Carol M. Gstalder, Reputation & Public Relations Practice Leader for Harris Poll.

She added that "Wegmans has spent years building a sterling reputation in the communities they serve, through its employees, one shopping experience at a time".

Two years ago Apple had the best reputation but it has since fallen to ninth in the rankings, although its score of 80.69 still qualified it as 'excellent'.

A total of 12 companies had 'excellent' reputations, with RQ scores above 80, while 16 were said to be 'poor', with scores from 50 to 64. Among the latter were media business Time Warner, in 85th place with an RQ of 64.93, and banker Goldman Sachs in 100th, scoring 55.07.

Harris Poll reported that retailer JC Penney had shown the strongest improvement in the past year as its turnaround strategy gained traction.

In contrast, vehicle manufacturers Honda, Hyundai and General Motors experienced the largest declines in reputation, thanks largely to an unprecedented series of automotive recalls.

The importance of reputation was emphasised by Gstalder, who stated that 36% of the US public had decided against doing business with a company because of something they had learned about its conduct.

"Companies need to evaluate and understand the increasing expectations consumers have when it comes to corporate reputation," she said, "specifically what they think, say and do, as well as how best to engage with them."

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff