Just what company do shoppers find to be the most reputable? The company that just took the top spot in the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study is… Apple, Inc.
However, taking a look at the details of the just released study, we find that the poll of 17,000 Americans was conducted from December 2 to December 19, 2011.
That means the poll was taken prior to Apple getting slammed with negative publicity over workers rights in its suppliers’ Chinese manufacturing plants. The negative publicity began with a story in the New York Times on January 25, which detailed injuries, deaths, and intolerable working conditions at factories making Apple products. Petitions demanding the company change its policies gathered more than a quarter million signatures online.
Yesterday Apple announced that third-party inspectors would be auditing their suppliers’ manufacturing plants. But we do wonder if the results of the poll would be the same if it were taken today, considering the spat of bad publicity Apple has recently experienced.
Google, who placed number two in the study, was first last year. The Coca-Cola Company came in third place. Amazon took fourth. Kraft Foods came in fifth.
Apple earned a Reputation Quotient (RQ) score of 85.62 in the study. The highest in the 13 year history of the annual study. But overall, scores worsened over last year’s. Scores of 80 or above are considered to be an “excellent reputation.” In 2011, 16 companies were ranked in that ‘80 or above’ range. In the 2012 study, only eight made the cut, a reduction of 50%.
“It’s quite striking to see such a drop in the number of companies scoring 80 or above,” said Robert Fronk, executive vice president and Global Corporate Reputation Practice Lead for Harris Interactive. “Corporations are facing significant headwinds as they try to win and preserve consumer trust.”