NEW YORK — The American public showed an increased level of confidence in The Coca-Cola Co. in 2014 as the Atlanta-based beverage giant broke into the top 5 of the 2014 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient (RQ) study. The study surveys more than 18,000 members of the U.S. general public to measure the reputation of the 60 most visible companies in the United States.
For Coca-Cola, an RQ score of 82.68 boosted it into the No. 2 spot in the Harris Poll, up from No. 6 in 2013. Companies that score higher than an 80 are considered to have an “excellent” reputation, according to The Nielsen Co., which acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll in February.
Coca-Cola trailed only Amazon, which posted an RQ score of 83.67. But Coca-Cola was noteworthy for another reason as well. The company was the only one to be ranked in the top 5 in all six reputation dimensions measured by The Harris Poll. Coca-Cola finished first in “financial performance” and “vision and leadership,” second in “workplace environment,” third in “social responsibility” and “emotional appeal,” and fifth in “products and services.”
“(Coca-Cola) has been on the RQ most visible list for all 15 years of the RQ study and in a nearly unmatched show of reputation consistency, has hovered around an RQ score of 80, the mark of an ‘excellent’ reputation, for all 15 years,” the study noted.
Whole Foods Market also finished in the top 10 with a score of 80.45. The Austin, Texas-based grocer took home the No. 1 ranking within the “social responsibility” category, which measures environmental responsibility, community responsibility and whether a company supports good causes. Whole Foods also finished in the top 5 (No. 5) for “vision and leadership.”
Other noteworthy placers in the top 20 included Kraft Foods (No. 12) at 78.82 and Chick-Fil-A (No. 20) at 77.07. Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A made the fifth most significant improvement in RQ score between 2013 and 2014, moving up 7 points.
PepsiCo, Inc. (No. 25) at 75.33, Starbucks Corp. (No. 27) at 75.12, Target (No. 39) at 68.91, McDonald’s (No. 43) at 67.02, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (No. 44) at 66.51, and Monsanto (No. 58) at 57.27 also made the list. RQ scores of between 75 and 79 are considered “very good,” 70 to 74 are “good,” 65 to 69 are “fair,” 55 to 64 are “poor,” 50 to 54 are “very poor,” and below 50 is “critical.”
No companies fell in the “very poor” or “critical” stage during 2014, and for the first time since 2007 no companies received a “critical” stage RQ score of less than 50, Nielsen said.
In general, Nielsen said the 2014 survey indicates corporate America is being viewed more positively.
“Only 20% say reputation has improved, but this is up 25% from 2013 and double 2012,” the report said. “Although more Americans remain skeptical about the reputation of corporate America than confident, the gap continues to steadily close.”For the full study visitwww.nielsen.com.