Shoppers Admire This Retailer Even More Than Costco

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With so many products to choose from, shoppers must consider price, options and availability. But when those seem similar, a company’s reputation can also come into play.

The Axios Harris Poll 100 ranks the reputations of the companies most on the minds of Americans. The 2023 edition is based on a survey of more than 16,000 Americans in a nationally representative sample. The first part of the survey establishes the nation’s top 100 most visible companies, and then a second group of respondents rates them on seven key dimensions of reputation.

Perhaps to no one’s surprise, membership club Costco ranked high — but it didn’t nab the No. 1 spot. Here’s a look at the companies that ranked highest in the latest annual poll, counting down to the company that beats Costco.

15. Microsoft

Microsoft Windows 11
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 79.7 (very good range)

Billionaire founder Bill Gates has moved on from Microsoft, the giant technology company he founded with the late Paul Allen. But the company remains one of the world’s largest software makers by revenue, as of 2022, and is one of the Big Five American information-technology companies. In 2021, its value exceeded $2 trillion for the first time. It scored especially high in the poll for company vision and culture.

14. UPS

UPS truck
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 79.8 (very good range)

The brown driver uniforms and trucks of UPS, also known as United Parcel Service, are familiar to many. And for good reason: UPS has more than 500,000 employees worldwide, serves more than 200 countries and territories, and delivers 24.3 million packages every day. A delivery company needs to be trusted, and UPS nabbed the No. 3 spot in the poll’s trust category.

13. Honda Motor Co.

2012 Honda Accord
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 79.8 (very good range)

Honda is one of two carmakers making the top 15. It scored high for company culture and character. And while perhaps best-known for its cars, Honda also makes motorcycles, power equipment, personal watercraft and even created a robot, ASIMO, named for science-fiction author Isaac Asimov. (While ASIMO is no longer made, Honda is still incorporating robotic technology into other products.)

12. Sony

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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 79.8 (very good range)

Japanese conglomerate Sony makes cameras, TVs, electronics and, through Sony Entertainment, big-screen movies and music. Its PlayStation 2 video game console, released in 2000, remains the best-selling video game console of all time.

11. 3M

3M sign
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 80.5 (excellent range)

In Minnesota, some long-term residents simply call 3M “The Mining,” an old-school nickname for the company originally known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. Its products — which include Scotch tape, Post-it Notes and Scotchgard — may not be glamorous, but they certainly have loyal fans. 3M’s score went up 2.6% from the 2022 poll to the 2023 poll.

10. Apple

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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 80.6 (excellent range)

You may be wearing, or carrying, a piece of Apple technology right now. Apple Inc. is a gigantic tech company known for its computers, smartphones and watches. It moved up 2.5% from the 2022 poll, and has made the top 10 in five of the last 10 polls.

9. USAA

USAA logo
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 80.6 (excellent range)

If you’re not from a military family, you might not be familiar with USAA. The acronym stands for the United Services Automobile Association, and it provides insurance and banking products to members of the military, veterans and their families. And it lives up to the highest military standards, poll respondents say, putting it at No. 2 for both ethics and citizenship.

8. Amazon.com

Amazon shipping boxes
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 80.7 (excellent range)

Powerhouse Amazon.com began as an online bookstore, and now it sells everything from cat collars to computers. Although its ranking dropped slightly from the 2022 poll, Amazon.com has staying power. It’s made the top 10 in all 10 of the last 10 years, the only company to do so.

7. Samsung

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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 81.0 (excellent range)

You’ll see the Samsung name on everything from electronics and home appliances to life insurance and even a South Korean theme park. Whatever products Americans know the Samsung name from, they trust it: The company has grabbed one of the top 10 spots in the poll six times in the last 10 years.

6. Toyota Motor Corp.

Toyota Corolla Hybrid
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 81.0 (excellent range)

Toyota was the highest-scoring car company in the poll, and when only rural respondents were considered, it scored at No. 2 overall, behind only 3M. (Rival Honda beat it out among urban respondents.) Toyota is also consistent – up just 0.9% from the 2022 poll.

5. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 81.4 (excellent range)

Chick-fil-A is the only restaurant chain to make the top 15 in the poll. It’s well-known for its chicken sandwiches and the religious influence of its late founder, S. Truett Cathy, which has led the restaurants to be closed on Sundays. In the latest study, it ranked No. 3 overall for ethics, scoring much higher with Republican, rural, suburban and millennial respondents than Democratic, urban and baby boomer respondents.

4. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's store entrance
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 81.7 (excellent range)

Trader Joe’s now has grocery stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia. It ranked high for citizenship, vision, trust and growth. The company strives for sustainability by keeping its stores small, using minimal building materials and utilizing energy-efficient LED lighting, among other techniques. And the company is picky about its products, not selling anything with synthetic colors or artificial flavors or that uses genetically modified organisms as ingredients.

3. John Deere

Man riding a tractor in Wilmington, Vermont
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 82.0 (excellent range)

Even city slickers likely recognize John Deere’s trademark green-and-yellow machinery, which range from large farm and forestry machines to lawn mowers for home use. The company placed third overall, but it grabbed the No. 2 spots for both culture and products and services. John Deere also issues an annual sustainability report, which notes that in 2022, the company achieved a 29% cumulative reduction of operational greenhouse gas emissions since 2017, increased its waste recycling to 84% and surpassed its 2022 renewable electricity goal of 50%.

2. Costco

Costco sign
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 82.1 (excellent range)

Costco has membership-only big-box stores in 46 of the 50 U.S. states, and its $1.50 hot dog-and-soda combo deal is well-known. Although one company beat it out for the overall corporate reputation title, Costco ranked No. 1 in the culture, trust and growth categories. And if you’re a fan of the company’s Kirkland Signature brand, don’t be surprised if those products seem familiar. Here’s a roundup of 11 name brands behind Costco’s generic products.

1. Patagonia

Patagonia store
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This company’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) score: 83.5 (excellent range)

Outdoor clothing and accessories retailer Patagonia topped the list, returning to the No. 1 spot it held in 2021, after falling to No. 3 in 2022. Patagonia scored higher than any other company in the survey as far as ethics, citizenship, products and services.

Those citizenship and ethics rankings shouldn’t be a surprise. Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. And in 2002, company founder Yvon Chouinard co-founded the nonprofit corporation 1% for the Planet to encourage other businesses to do the same.

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