Grocery has emerged from the pandemic with its reputation intact, results from the 2022 Axios-Harris Poll 100 list indicate.
The list, whose roots date back to 1999, is an annual ranking of the reputations of the most visible U.S. companies. Grocery dominated this year, with Trader Joe's, H-E-B and Wegmans in the top five, and Publix and Kroger among the top 25.
"As Americans move on from COVID, they are looking at corporate reputation through a more practical lens," John Gerzema, CEO of The Harris Poll, said in a release. "Companies delivering on time and keeping their promises despite supply-chain issues are being held in high regard. Businesses that also do their part to create a better world—whether through sustainability or taking a stand on authentic social issues—also are being rewarded."
Supply-chain issues were just one of many obstacles grocers faced as communities looked to them as a source of food and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocers had to keep abreast of evolving rules and regulations regarding social distancing, masks and more, while implementing or increasing pickup and delivery efforts overnight and dealing with a challenging labor market. As such, through the pandemic, many grocers maintained or earned consumer trust.
"To excel at reputation, companies must deliver high marks on business performance, corporate character and trust," said Ray Day, vice chair of Stagwell, which includes The Harris Poll. "While you can build a brand, you earn a reputation. Companies with strong reputations have a price advantage, a competitive advantage and a talent advantage. That's why reputation needs to be a priority from the board room to the C-suite."
H-E-B, Publix and Kroger recently led in WGB’smost recent Most Trusted report, conducted in partnership with BrandSpark International. The report found that 59% of shoppers who had visited an H-E-B identified it as the grocer they trust the most. “Many leading grocers saw ‘pandemic rebounds’ as trust and loyalty among their own shoppers increased following disruption last year,” Philip Scrutton, VP of shopper insights for Brandspark, said at the time.
On the sustainability front, Wegmans will eliminate plastic bags chainwide this year, and Kroger—which was named WGB’s2021 Grocery Business of the Year in part for its sustainability initiatives—recently expanded its partnership with Loop, a circular reuse platform developed by TerraCycle that allows customers to purchase products in refillable and reusable containers.
"It's back to basics with companies that offer quality products and are guided by steadfast values riding to the top," said Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn.
Trader Joe’s is new to the Axios-Harris Poll 100 list this year, and with a score of 82.4, it ranked No. 1. H-E-B wasn’t far behind, with a score of 82 to take the second spot. Wegmans came in at No. 5 with a score of 80.6. Completing the top 5 were Patagonia and The Hershey Co. at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
Publix came in at No. 19 with a 78.8 score, while The Kroger Co. was No. 25 with a 78.4. Costco (No. 26), Target (No. 32) and Walmart (No. 77) also made the list.
The Axios-Harris Poll 100 is based on a survey of 33,096 Americans in a nationally representative sample conducted March 11-April 3. The two-step process starts by surveying the public's top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter. These 100 "most visible companies" are then ranked by a second group of Americans across the seven key dimensions of reputation to arrive at the ranking. If a company is not on the list, it did not reach a critical level of visibility to be measures, Axios and Harris Poll said.