Apple has lost the top spot as "Most Reputable Company" in the U.S. to Amazon.com, according to a report released on Tuesday via the 2013 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ).
By surveying more than 14,000 members of the general public, Harris investigates the current reputation of the country's 60 most visible companies, then "fully comprehend[s] [each] company's brand promise and goals, and design[s] effective messaging and strategies going forward," according to its website.
Harris has been an industry staple for more than a decade and alleges that it has "consistently demonstrated the link between strong corporate reputations (i.e., perceptions) and positive supportive behaviors toward those companies, including product purchase and investment behavior."
In order to evaluate the perceptions of stakeholders in surveyed companies, Harris groups together 20 company attributes into six "dimensions of reputation":
- Products & Services
- Financial Performance
- Workplace Environment
- Social Responsibility
- Vision & Leadership
- Emotional Appeal
Though this is the fifth consecutive year that Amazon received a high reputation score, 2013's Harris survey marks the first time the online retailer has achieved the top ranking. Along with Apple in second place, the other three companies in the Top Five are: the Walt Disney Company, Google, and Johnson & Johnson.
It is notable that though Google has only been extant for 14 years, it has earned a place in the Top Five for the last eight consecutive years.
Additionally, the lowest rankings were bestowed upon AIG and Goldman Sachs (both of which have been listed in the Bottom Six previously), along with: Halliburton, American Airlines, and Bank of America (which did see the highest year-over-year increase of any company, with a six point change). Best Buy and Honda saw the largest score decrease of any other company.
Amazon earned the top spots in two of the six reputation dimensions: Emotional Appeal and Products & Services. The company also received nearly all positive ratings on Trust measurements, despite having a mostly virtual relationship with consumers.
"Our results show that Amazon has managed to build an intimate relationship with the public without being perceived as intrusive," said Robert Fronk, Executive Vice President of Reputation Management at Harris Interactive and publisher of the Harris Poll.
"And as the company that is so widely known for its personal recommendations, more than nine in ten members of the public would recommend Amazon to friends and family."
Of those polled, 16 percent agreed that the very reputation of corporate America itself is showing some improvement (as opposed to the nine percent who said the same in 2012's survey).
"The public seem to have become pragmatically realistic with their expectations of corporate America, and we characterize this year's overall findings as the great muddling of corporate America." said Fronk