Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

5. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)
> Reputation score:
80.9
> 2014 score: 77.7
> Industry: Pharmaceutical
> CEO: Alex Gorsky

Johnson & Johnson is the fifth-largest pharmaceutical company and the sixth-largest consumer health company in the world, according to the company’s website. J&J’s reputation suffered in recent years due to massive recalls, including of over-the-counter medications Benadryl and Children’s Tylenol. Since then, however, the company seems to have recovered in the eyes of the general public. Founded in 1887, J&J is one of the older companies on this list, and many Americans likely associate a variety of household products with the company. J&J posted profits of $16.3 billion in 2014, up from the year before.

4. Costco (NASDAQ: COST)
> Reputation score:
81.7
> 2014 score: 80.8
> Industry: Retailer
> CEO: W. Craig Jelinek

In 2014, Costco employed 195,000 full- and part-time employees worldwide. Costco customers were more satisfied than any other company operating in the specialty retail industry, with an ACSI score of 84 — an especially high score both in and outside the industry. A significant portion of the company’s revenues are generated through membership fees, and Costco members seem to enjoy the business model. Costco’s member renewal rate was 91% in the United States and Canada. The wholesale warehouse store ranked among the best five companies in three of the six reputation dimensions: emotional appeal, products and services, and workplace environment.

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3. Samsung
> Reputation score:
82.0
> 2014 score: 80.7
> Industry: Technology
> CEO: Oh-Hyun Kwon

Samsung’s reputation rank improved significantly this year, surpassing its main competitor Apple, which fell to ninth overall. Just two years ago, Samsung was ranked 13th, while Apple’s reputation was ranked first. The company’s Galaxy series of phones and tablets has been a stunning success and has driven some customers away from Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Samsung owes its high reputation rank to nearly across-the-board high scores in the reputation quotient. It ranks in the top five in four of the reputation dimensions: emotional appeal, products and services, vision and leadership, and financial performance. In 2014, Samsung scored higher than any other cell phone manufacturer in the ACSI.

2. Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN)
> Reputation score:
83.7
> 2014 score: 83.9
> Industry: Retailer
> CEO: Jeffrey P. Bezos

Like several other companies with the best reputations, Amazon.com is regarded very favorably among the general public and is very successful financially. It is the top-scoring company for customer satisfaction among Internet retailers. The 10-year old retail behemoth posted revenues of roughly $89.0 billion last year, up from the previous year — the online retailer has been growing dramatically for years. Despite the growth, the company posted a sizable loss of $241 million in fiscal 2014. Yet, ordinary consumers are not the only people who favor Amazon.com. Because many on Wall Street view the company’s losses as temporary and resulting from CEO Jeff Bezos’ long-term strategy of favoring expansion over short-term gains, Amazon.com’s stock price has shot up nearly 35% year to date.

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1. Wegmans Food Markets
> Reputation score:
84.4
> 2014 score: N/A
> Industry: Supermarket
> CEO: Daniel R. Wegman

Considering that the companies ranked by the reputation quotient are first identified based on being well-known, it is remarkable Wegmans makes it on the list at all, let alone scores first overall. The Rochester, NY-based supermarket chain was locally located for some time, and even now can only be found in just six states. Still, the overwhelmingly positive reputation of the chain, which boasts numerous accolades for its food selection, customer service, and workplace environment, has placed it as the company with the best reputation. “You tend to have a love/hate relationship with your grocer, I think. You either love them, or you view them as a necessary evil,” Pearce said. With Wegmans, it is clearly the former.