Consumers Love Amazon, But May Be Questioning Its Ethics

May 3, 2019

Amazon is no longer the top company for corporate reputation in the eyes of Americans. Dropping to the second position in the most recent Axios Harris Poll of the 100 Most Visible Companies [download page], Amazon still ranks high in areas like growth, products and services – but has struggled in areas of ethics and culture.

As far as innovation goes, Amazon seems to be doing everything right. More than two-thirds (69%) of the US respondents who were at least somewhat familiar with Amazon agreed that the company was “on it’s way up,” while 58% agreed that it develops innovative products. Perhaps most telling about Amazon’s hold on e-commerce is that 43% of Americans said they can’t imagine living without the retailer.

Past research has shown that shoppers tend to prefer frictionless checkout, low-priced or free shipping, and clear product descriptions and reviews. Furthermore, some 3 in 5 American shoppers say they are frequent customers on Amazon, suggesting that Jeff Bezos’s behemoth has more than managed to fulfill these criteria.

The Axios Harris Poll results revealed that Amazon performed well in attributes such as business trajectory, vision and growth. The report infers that, at least when it comes to Amazon, respondents value the business aspects of the firm.

However, when it comes to ethics and shared values, Amazon starts to falter. While some 41% of respondents agreed that Amazon shares their values, just 39% felt that Amazon rewards its employees fairly and only about one-fifth (19%) felt that the corporation speaks out on social issues that are important to them.

Other recent events, namely the controversy regarding HQ2, as well as continual labor issues, have likely contributed to Amazon falling out of the top 10 rankings for attributes like culture and ethics. While this does not seem to present any immediate problems with Amazon’s growth as a company, low prices and free shipping are not the only things that consumers value in a company.

Cone/Porter Novelli research revealed that 90% of American consumers would buy from a company that was purpose driven and that the majority think that the best way to demonstrate this purpose is through corporate social responsibility initiatives. Additionally, customer purchase decisions are also in part determined by ethical factors, such as operating with environmentally or social responsibility practices and providing fair wages.

Facebook is a prime example of what can happen when the public loses trust and starts to question the ethics of a corporation. Despite having more than 2 billion users, Facebook sits at the bottom 10 of most of the attributes lists and experienced the biggest decline on this year’s reputation list, falling 43 positions to #94.

To read more, download the study here.

About the Data: Rating interviews took place online between January 2nd to 18th, 2019 among 18,228 U.S. adults to obtain an average of approximately 300 ratings per company.

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