Canada’s most reputable corporations a stable bunch

Leger's annual consumer survey shows trust is long-lasting but easily lost.

Google has topped Leger’s Corporate Reputation Survey rankings for the fifth consecutive year.

The 20th annual online survey of more than 27,000 Canadians evaluates 234 brands operating across Canada, weighing positive consumer sentiment against negative sentiment to produce a “reputation score.” The survey was conducted from Dec. 21 2016 to Jan 29, 2017.

Leger Corporate Reputation Top 10 (with 2016 ranking)

1. Google (1)
2. Shoppers Drug Mart (3)
3. Canadian Tire (4)
4. Tim Hortons (10)
5. Dollarama (6)
6. Staples (11)
7. Sony (12)
8. Kellogg’s (5)
9. Campbell (9)
10. Home Depot (14)

With seven companies returning from the 2016 top 10, the leaders on Leger’s list have remained remarkably stable over the years. Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Leger, says the strongest performers on the list benefit from high familiarity and intimacy. “They have a level of proximity where [consumers] can express themselves clearly about them… There’s always a Shoppers near you, for example. And they all deliver a stable, simple brand promise, like Dollarama,” which has been climbing the ranking steadily since the 2008 recession, popping into the top 10 for the first time last year.

Avoiding negative headlines has also proven to be important. “In terms of brand equity, once people dislike you, it’s hard to get them to like you again,” Bourque says.

The two notable absences from last year’s top 10 are Heinz, which had been number two, and Samsung, which had been seventh. In a press release, Leger points to Heinz’s plant closings and layoffs for its drop to the 23rd spot on the list, while Samsung’s well-publicized woes with overheating smartphones is the reason for its decline to 24th, Leger said.

“What is very obvious today, more so than at any time since Leger began conducting its reputational research, is that companies must be able to withstand scrutiny that comes from journalists, customers, regulators and increasingly shareholders in a 24-hour, always-on, social media environment,” says Kim West, chief client officer at National Public Relations, which partners on the study. “It’s a world in which there are few places to find cover.”

Consumer feedback in the survey showed two dominant factors driving reputation: product quality and transparency. Compared to factors such as financial success, CSR and innovation, 52% of all respondents listed quality as relevant, and 35% said honesty and transparency affected their estimation of a given company.