Three quarters of Americans agree that, generally speaking, during the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, “companies were more reliable than the federal government in keeping America running”.

The 2020 Axios Harris Poll 100 reputation rankings ordered the top 100 companies, based on consumers' scores across seven qualities: affinity (trust – weighted higher than all other categories), citizenship, ethics, culture, vision, growth and products and services.

Unsurprisingly during a pandemic, cleaning products business Clorox retained its top position.

And when Axios grouped the companies by industry, it found that most industries had seen public approval scores increase during the pandemic, but most obviously those playing a vital role during lockdown – so grocers and CPG companies like Clorox, as well as streaming companies and pharmacies.

“Overwhelmingly, the poll finds that consumers approve of companies that address social and societal issues. These expectations are likely to last long after the initial phase of the pandemic,” said Axios.

It’s almost a year since The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executive officers of nearly 200 major US corporations, said that investing in employees, delivering value to customers, dealing ethically with suppliers and supporting outside communities are now at the forefront of American business goals, not just maximising shareholder value.

“If you focus on shareholders, you fail all your stakeholders,” pointed out Mark Haviland, EVP Brand Development & Sustainability at e-commerce platform Rakuten, during a session at last year’s DMEXCO conference during which he maintained that ESG issues (environmental, social, governance) have superseded the old CSR concept (for more, read WARC’s report: The Rakuten guide to sustainability).

The Axios Harris findings lend weight to that argument. “The coronavirus pandemic has expedited that shift, and consumers are responding favorably to it,” Axios noted. 

Sourced from Axios, CNBC; additional content by WARC staff