Food Retailers, CPG Brands Outshine Tech Giants In Harris Reputation Poll

Food brands — retailers, as well as consumer packaged goods makers — made another strong showing in the latest edition of the annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study.

Restaurant companies’ performance improved somewhat, and included one shooting star: Chick-fil-A.  

The annual study asks U.S. consumers to identify the top 100 most visible companies, then surveys consumers to rank those companies based on their perceived reputation in six categories: emotional appeal, products and services, social responsibility, vision and leadership, workplace environment, and financial performance.

Food retailers actually outperformed all other categories —including tech giants — in the overall corporate reputation ranking, in terms of their presence at the top.

Fully four of the top 10 (versus two in 2017) are food retail brands: Wegmans (which retained its #2 ranking from 2017); H-E-B Grocery (#6, not in last year’s top 100); Publix Super Markets (#8, versus #3 last year); and Aldi (#10, up from #38 last year).



In contrast, Apple and Google saw their rankings plummet from #5 and #8, to #29 and #28, respectively. The rest of this year’s top 10 are a mixed bag, category-wise, including Amazon, which retained its #1 position; Tesla (#3, up from #9); Chick-fil-A (leaping up from a quite respectable #25 last year); The Walt Disney Company (up to #5, from #7); UPS (#7, down from #6); and Patagonia (not ranked last year).

Further, this year’s top 25 includes three more food retailers: Costco (#17, down from #14); The Kroger Company (#18, up from #21); and Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods — now owned by Amazon, which retained its #1 position in the rankings — rose to #23 from #34 in 2017.

Food CPGs Led by Kraft Heinz, Kellogg

Turning to food CPG brands, The Kraft Heinz Company and The Kellogg Company lead this year’s pack, with large leaps in their rankings. Kraft Heinz jumped to #13 from #43 last year, and Kellogg rose to #14 from #31 in 2017.

PepsiCo’s standing also rose considerably, to #45, from #53 last year.

Other major food and beverage brands had significant drops in their rankings, although still remaining in the upper third of the list.

The Coca-Cola Company dropped from #12 in 2017 to #27 this year; General Mills dropped from #13 to #30; and Nestle slipped from #27 to #33.

Mondelez, #34 last year, isn’t in this year’s top 100 — but that’s indicative of not being among the 100 companies identified as the “most visible” by U.S. consumers, not a reflection of a drop in how positively consumers perceive the company’s reputation.

Conversely, Unilever (not strictly a food company, of course) and Tyson Foods, which were not in the 2017 rankings, rank #37 and #62, respectively, this year.

Restaurants: Chick-fil-A Leaps to #4

The next restaurant brand after Chick-fil-A is more than 50 rankings lower.

Yum! Brands, parent of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, rose to #53, from #61 last year; Starbucks ticked up to #54, from #55; McDonald’s jumped to #59, from #74; and Chipotle rose to #75, from #84.

Burger King basically held its own, dipping to #71, from #70 last year.

While many factors influence consumer perceptions of corporate reputatons, "this year, the RQ study revealed that socially conscious companies are thriving off of the division and dysfunction in government,” said John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll.

“What we're seeing is a new vanguard of corporate leaders taking an active role to solve societal challenges that government can't or won't,” he added. “We're calling this a movement of 'Big Ideals,' where companies are rising above politics to focus on a pressing social challenge, whether it be healthcare, transportation or education.”

This year’s full 100 corporate rankings are posted on The Harris Poll’s site.

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