- Grocers Publix, Wegmans, Costco and Kroger along with Amazon took five of the top 10 spots on the 2020 Axios Harris Poll 100, an annual ranking of U.S. companies' reputations based on public perception.
- The pandemic played a key role in determining which companies fared best in the annual ranking, with respondents rewarding companies that responded decisively to the public health crisis.
- Clorox finished atop the poll, which is based on responses from 34,026 people in the United States conducted online from June 24 to July 6.
Grocers jumped into action to provide people with essential goods when the pandemic began impacting the United States in March, and that rapid response looks to have paid off in how at least some of them are viewed by members of the public.
As people sought stability and reassurance as the COVID-19 crisis — and later the national movement against racial inequality — took center stage in the United States, they looked to large companies with substantial resources and logistical expertise to provide answers and demonstrate leadership, according to a report Harris published about its research.
Food retailers certainly fit that description. But while Amazon, Publix, Wegmans, Costco and Kroger all finished high in the ranking, Walmart, the largest grocery seller in the country, finished at No. 85, down six spots from 2019. While Target was only able to garner a ranking of 51, that position represented a 21-spot leap from 2019.
The poll consisted of two key components. In the first phase, Harris compiled a list of companies seen as “most visible” by asking people to identify companies they thought had the best and worst reputations. Researchers next asked a different group to rank those organizations based on seven reputational measures — trust, vision, growth, products and services, culture, ethics and citizenship.
Respondents gave especially high grades to Clorox, which rocketed to the front of the public consciousness this year because of its role in producing items like bleach and disinfectant wipes that are on the front lines of the fight against the virus. The company, which returned to the ranking for the first time since 2016, finished in the top 10 in every category — the only company to do so.
Kroger and Publix were ranked highest in terms of how companies responded to the COVID-19 crisis and supported racial equality, two measures that were added to the survey this year.
Instacart, the e-commerce giant which has taken on a high-profile role in enabling consumers to obtain groceries during the pandemic, was a newcomer to the list at No. 44, which placed it among companies whose reputations were seen by respondents as “very good.”
Notably, 79% of participants in the survey said they expect corporate leaders to respond to major issues like the coronavirus and racial inequality, and an even greater percentage would forgive them for making mistakes. Seventy-two percent of respondents said they trust the private sector more than the federal government to find ways to overcome the pandemic and solve race-based problems.