If there’s one big takeaway from our annual corporate reputation study in the United States, it’s that corporate reputation matters more than ever – and perhaps even more so than elsewhere in the world – given that so many of the companies at the top of our list have an “excellent” rating.
The U.S. RepTrak® 100 ranks the most reputable global companies based on more than 83,000 ratings collected in the first quarter of 2016 from members of the U.S. general public. It measures the American public’s perception of top companies on the seven key rational dimensions of reputation: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance.
What is unique about the RepTrak® Pulse score is that it captures both the emotional nature of corporate reputation and the rational or more cognitive drivers behind the emotions. To generate a strong emotional bond with stakeholders, a company needs to earn a good reputation across the seven dimensions.
So what makes a company reputable in the eyes of American consumers? Three clear trends emerged from our data as differentiators.
1. Millennial Trust — The top companies in the U.S. have a better reputation among Millennials, especially when it comes to enterprise dimensions such as workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance. A strong connection with 18- to 34-year-olds as potential consumers, employees and investors is key for companies of higher repute.
2. A Strong Brand — The most reputable companies have the added equity of an underlying brand strength that is driven by a deeper sense of corporate brand purpose. The degree of reputation strength aligns with the ability to perform better at building a corporate brand narrative – not just a product brand story. The top 10 companies’ brand strength is an excellent 80.6, while the brand strength for the rest of the top 100 falls well below this threshold.
3. A Strong Sense of Social Responsibility and Moral Values — The top 10 companies have a strong commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and are aligned with shared social values. This is especially evident for companies such as Samsung, which has experienced a meteoric rise through the merits of good corporate citizenship and governance – whereas Apple, with the absence of a strong CSR agenda, doesn’t even make the U.S. RepTrak® 100.
The specific traits driving corporate reputations are products and services, governance and citizenship. These three dimensions have been the key drivers of reputation in the U.S. since the financial crisis in 2008. Being perceived as a responsibly run company and a good corporate citizen is especially critical, driving nearly 30 percent of the weighted importance of overall reputation.
An added key takeaway from this study is that the company behind the products is more important than products features and attributes alone in driving willingness to buy. Says Hahn-Griffiths, “The key to success in selling more product, is through enhancing corporate reputation, not just product brand marketing.” This is validated by the fact that sixty percent of all positive behavior is accounted for by the enterprise, and 40 percent being attributed to product-related considerations. This all suggests that who you are and what you stand for as a company increasingly matters more than just what you sell.
The full 2016 U.S. RepTrak® 100 is available online at http://www.reputationinstitute.com/research/RepTrak-in-Country/US-RepTrak-100.
To learn more about the 2016 U.S. RepTrak® 100 study and find out what companies top the list, join us at our webinar on Tuesday, March 29 at 10 AM EST. You can register for the webinar at http://www.reputationinstitute.com/events.
Managing Director, US & Canada