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It Pays to Be Political — Patagonia Has the Best Reputation in America, and REI Isn’t Far Behind

Patagonia isn’t just revered for the products it makes. The outdoor company has also earned praise from consumers for its public social and political stances.

Because of this, consumers have named Patagonia the company in America with the best reputation, according to the 2021 Axios-Harris Poll 100, which is an annual ranking of the reputations of U.S. companies.

To earn the top spot, Patagonia bested heavyweights in a variety of industries, including Honda Motor Company, Moderna, Chick-Fil-A and SpaceX.

The survey’s Reputation Quotient ranking, according to The Harris Poll, is based on seven areas: trust, vision, growth, products and services, culture, ethics and citizenship. The Harris Poll explained that businesses with a clear point of view that also have an impact on society have the best reputations.

“With the end of the pandemic in the U.S. in sight, this year’s Axios-Harris Poll 100 reflects how we have evolved far beyond business as usual,” The Harris Poll chairman Mark Penn said in a statement. “Today’s consumer is more digitally connected and more purpose-driven than ever, and that dramatically affects what it takes to excel in marketing, communications and reputation.”

Patagonia ranked in the top 10 in each of the aforementioned categories, including earning the No. 1 spot in ethics (with a score of 84.7), citizenship (82) and culture (82.5).

Its most recent activism efforts came last month, when Patagonia joined the fight against voter suppression in Georgia. The company announced a $1 million donation to local voting rights groups, split equally between the Black Voters Matter Fund and The New Georgia Project. Also this year, the brand made a social statement by closing its doors on Jan. 18 to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Last year, Patagonia made headlines with its firm stance against climate-denying politicians. In September 2020, the company shared a strong message with its consumers via email that also appeared on its website: “Vote Climate Deniers Out of Office.”

“Companies that advertise around corporate social responsibility and purpose is a hot trend right now. Messages about values not only boost a company’s reputation, but they also help with recruiting talent, especially among younger workers that care more about what a company stands for,” Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei said in a statement. 

Not far beneath Patagonia is another outdoor industry giant: REI Co-op. The retailer also ranked in the “Excellent” tier, coming in at No. 11. Other notable names on the list from footwear and retail included Adidas (No. 49), Nike (No. 62), Nordstrom (No. 63) and Macy’s (No. 64).

The 2021 Axios Harris-Poll 100 surveyed 42,935 Americans in a nationally representative sample, which was conducted from April 8-21, 2021, in a two-step process. First, the survey looked at the public’s top-of-mind awareness of companies that either excel or falter in society. Then, the 100 most visible companies were ranked by a second group of Americans.

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