MEC tops ‘most reputable’ brand ranking

The outdoor equipment retailer debuts atop the Reputation Institute's annual list, alongside Google.

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Corporate social responsibility is playing an increasingly important role in the Reputation Institute’s (RI) annual global study of the most reputable brands in the world, and it’s brought a few significant shifts to its ranking of Canadian firms.

After polling 30,000 Canadians who demonstrated familiarity with the brands in question during its Q1 online survey, the London U.K.-based RI named outdoor equipment retailer MEC (formerly Mountain Equipment Co-Op) the most reputable Canadian brand.

It beat out Shoppers Drug Mart, Tim Hortons and last year’s top-ranked Home Hardware, among others, in its first year being included in the survey.

Google was the most reputable brand operating in Canada overall.

Brad Hecht, VP, client research at RI, says MEC’s strong citizenship, leadership and governance scores (second only to Google’s) ultimately put it ahead.

“To make it into the top 10, companies generally have to have strong scores in product attributes and company perception scores, such as ‘is it a good place to work and is it open and transparent?’” he says. “MEC does both.”

The survey indexes feedback from consumers along seven measures: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance. The result is a reputation score with a maximum of 100, with scores in the 70 to 80 range deemed “strong” and those over 80 deemed “excellent.”

Dan Tisch, CEO of Argyle Public Relations (which partners with RI on the survey) says CSR is becoming an “incredibly important” brand attribute, saying such investments have a significant return. “It’s really driving differentiation between all the companies that have great products and those that are seen as most reputable.”

MEC ranks highest in Canada on the survey’s CSR measures of citizenship, governance and workplace culture, and only two companies score higher than MEC on product attributes: Rolex and Louis Vuitton.

Most reputable Canadian companies

1. MEC (79.07)
2. Shoppers Drug Mart (78.01)
3. Tim Hortons (76.46)
4. Jean Coutu (76.51)
5. Agropur (75.25)
6. Jamieson (74.85)
7. Home Hardware (73.36)
8. Porter (73.23)
9. Cineplex (72.53)
10. Earth’s Own (72.45)

This year’s Canadian ranking saw reputation scores increase over 2016, when Home Hardware led the way with 76.9. Other strong performers from last year dropped off the top 10 list, including WestJet, High Liner Foods, Canadian Tire, McCain and Rona. Last year’s top 10 reputational average was 74.19 compared to this year’s 75.19.

Most reputable companies operating in Canada

1. Google (81.96)
2. Rolex (79.64)
3. MEC (79.07)
4. Canon (78.54)
5. Nintendo (78.27)
6. Kellogg’s (78.27)
7. Shoppers Drug Mart (78.07)
8. Lego (77.85)
9. Sony (77.54)
10. CAT (77.0)

The 2017 survey also dives into a few specific business sectors to find those who lead industries such as airlines or banking in consumers’ estimation.

TD Bank led the banking category despite a season of bad headlines after CBC reported its staff were pressured to sell financial products that benefited the bank’s bottom line rather than the customer’s interests.

Hecht says TD may have benefited from an already-strong reputation because it had “a perception of a good workplace environment as being more transparent that other banks.”

TD Bank scored a 70.77 reputation score, beating out Tangerine Bank (70.42), RBC (68.66), BMO (63.19), CIBC (65.29) and Scotiabank (62.10). TD’s strong performance and leadership scores made it one of only two banking brands to crest the 70-point threshold.

Porter Airlines beat out its larger competitors to earn the number-one spot among airlines in Canada (with an average reputation score of 73.23). It performed well on the products/services and performance measures.