Amazon’s score dropped the most, along with other shipping companies stretched by online shopping surge
Canadian Tire is the most reputable company in Canadian commerce, according to a report released today by Léger Marketing Inc. that offers a snapshot of how the pandemic has affected Canadians’ perceptions of certain companies and sectors.
Léger surveyed more than 32,000 Canadians on 275 companies as part of the 2021 edition of its annual Reputation study, which acts as a bellwether for the impacts of advertising and image on consumer awareness.
Canadian Tire jumped two spots to land at No. 1, while Shoppers Drug Mart, Kellogg, Sony and Campbell — which jumped seven spots — rounded out the top five.
This year saw boosts in the reputation of some stay-at-home services and drug companies while the hospitality and travel industries hurt by the pandemic saw their reputations come under pressure.
Overall, however, a year of upheaval that extended beyond the pandemic to Black Lives Matter and the U.S. election pushed news about businesses and branding to the background, leaving the mix of companies in the top 10 relatively unchanged, Léger executive vice-president Dave Scholz said in a phone interview.
“For a lot of Canadian corporations, the reputation they’ve had prior to COVID-19 was strong and they’ve been able to maintain it,” Scholz said. “There is not as much conversation about them and in some ways that helps.”
The survey conducted in January, with online respondents answering questions about 29 sectors of the economy, also found other results linked to the pandemic: increased support for payment services such as Interac, frustration with shippers such as Amazon and greater awareness of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer.
Canadian Tire relied on the homespun trust it has embedded into the national psyche, according to Léger.
“I always go back to that ad of a father buying his son his first bike and it came from Canadian Tire,” he said. “We’ve grown up with them, we have positive perceptions of them and great experiences with them. This past year didn’t let us down.”
Also in the top 10 were Google at six, followed by Samsung, Interac, YouTube and Dollarama.
The rankings are based on “reputation scores,” which Léger calculates by taking the percentage of respondents that had a good opinion of the company and subtracting the percentage that had a bad opinion, with the maximum possible score being 100.
SNC-Lavalin improved its score the most, but still finished at the bottom of the 276-company ranking in the wake of past scandals.
Amazon’s score dropped the most, part of a general drop by companies in the shipping space that have been stretched by online shopping orders.
“It’s like a stress test,” Scholz said. “All of a sudden more people were using Amazon and more people were having products shipped to their homes than ever before. As the year has gone on, we’ve become more and more critical of delays, quality and the actual experience.”
Last year, the top five were Shoppers Drug Mart, Google, Canadian Tire, Microsoft and Sony. Google slid a few places and Microsoft dropped out the top 10 this year as their services became less of a novelty, Scholz said. Twitter fell near the bottom of the web and social media services sector, a casualty of the U.S. election’s divisiveness, he said.
A&W earned best reputation among restaurants, edging out usual favourite Tim Hortons
A&W earned best reputation among restaurants, edging out usual favourite Tim Hortons as Canadians appreciated the root beer vendor’s plant-based burgers and folksy TV pitchman, Scholz said.
“They’ve done a brilliant job at advertising and finding a way to connect with a very crowded space in this marketplace,” Scholz said. “Tim Hortons has taken a massive hit over the last few years.”
Japanese companies had a lock on the auto category with Toyota followed by Honda, Mazda, Subaru and Nissan.
The top four spots in banking were held by payment services: Interac, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal. Then came the Big Five banks, led by Royal Bank of Canada.
In retail, Costco, Staples, Mark’s and Winners followed Canadian Tire.
Almost all hotel chains suffered lower reputation scores, though their overall rankings remained mostly with the top 90.