Top 8 Favorite U.S. Companies: 2012

A Harris poll ranks consumers’ opinion of the reputation of the 60 most visible companies in the United States; AdvisorOne focused on the top eight

Maybe Kraft's American cheese singles are one reason Kraft Foods is a Maybe Kraft's American cheese singles are one reason Kraft Foods is a "perennial elite" in the poll. (Photo: AP)

Harris Interactive on Monday announced the results of its 13th annual Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study, which ranked consumers’ opinion of the reputation of the 60 most visible companies in the United States; AdvisorOne focused on the top eight.

Harris said in a statement that although traditional manufacturers’ reputations have fared well, their overall visibility has declined over the past decade. Customer inclination toward strong leadership and technological innovation has shifted affinity to technology companies like Apple, which benefits greatly from its hybrid status as a technology/consumer product/retail company. Notwithstanding this trend, regional brick-and-mortar retailers are once again prominent this year.

The survey found that corporate America is more tarnished today than it was a year ago. The positive momentum noted in 2011 had faded in 2012, with 9% of respondents saying that the reputation of corporate America had improved over the past year, while 60% said it had declined.

The survey also showed that industries positioned as part of the solution to America’s economic woes are best able to weather negative perceptions surrounding corporate America. Industries that are seen to be helping America’s ailing economy tend to have higher reputations: Technology and retail: 53% and 39% of Americans, respectively, saw them as part of the solution.

Industries that were perceived to be hurting the economy tended to have lower reputations: Financial Services and Banking: 70% and 75% of Americans, respectively, see them as part of the problem.

The Harris Poll Reputation Quotient measures six areas that make up reputation and affect consumer behavior: social responsibility, emotional appeal, financial performance, products and services, vision and leadership, and workplace environment.

The 2012 RQ survey was conducted from Dec. 2 to Dec. 19. An RQ score of 80 or above signifies that a company has an “excellent reputation.” This year, only eight companies scored 80 or above, a 50% decrease from 2011. Here are the Top 8:

Whole Foods store in Providence, RI. (Photo: AP)8. WHOLE FOODS MARKET (WFM)

Scored 80.14, yanking it up from 17th place last year.

It ranked first for social responsibility.

Johnson & Johnson products. (Photo: AP)7. JOHNSON & JOHNSON (JNJ)

Scored 80.45, certainly a good score, though not good enough to maintain its second-place finish in the 2011 survey.

This year, it ranked fourth for social responsibility.

Disney World in Florida. (Photo: AP)6. WALT DISNEY (DIS)

Scored 81.28, which moved it up from 10th place last year.

It came in fourth for financial performance, and fifth for social responsibility and vision and leadership.

Kraft cheese slices. (Photo: AP)5. KRAFT FOODS (KFT)

Scored 81.62, jumping from seventh place in 2011 and maintaining its stature among what Harris called its “perennial reputation elite.”

It was second for emotional appeal, third for products and services and fifth for workplace environment.

Amazon package being delivered. (Photo: AP)4. AMAZON (AMZN)

Scored 81.92, allowing it to jump four places from its 2011 spot.

And in a real coup for a company with no storefront and limited human interaction, it ranked first for emotional appeal. In other categories, it was third for vision and leadership, and fifth for products and services and financial performance.

Coke label3. COCA-COLA (KO)

Scored 81.99, good enough to leap out of its 15th place finish last year.

It ranked second for vision and leadership, third for financial performance, social responsibility and workplace environment, and fifth for emotional appeal.

Google headquarters in Mountainview, Calif. (Photo: AP)2. GOOGLE (GOOG)

Scored 82.82, compared with its top ranking score last year of 84.05.

In the reputation categories, it was second for products and services, financial performance and workplace environment, and fourth for vision and leadership.

Steve Jobs memorial image on iPhone. (Photo: AP)1. APPLE (AAPL)

Scored 85.62, the highest score for any company in the history of the RQ.

Last year, it ranked fifth with a score of 82.05. In the six reputation areas, it ranked first for financial performance, products and services, vision and leadership, and workplace environment. It was second for social responsibility and fourth for emotional appeal.

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Top 10 lists from AdvisorOne:

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