Air New Zealand has once again topped the corporate reputation rankings. This comes despite facing Covid-19 disruption and the airfare refund versus credit debacle.
The national carrier is number one on the Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index for the seventh year running.
The Index, a partnership with Wright Communications, uses the global RepZ framework, created by Colmar Brunton's parent company Kantar, to rank organisations based on the attributes of responsibility, trust, fairness and leadership.
Making up the top 10, Supermarket giant Pak'nSave came second, followed by TVNZ, Toyota, AA Insurance, Fisher Paykel Appliances, New World, Bunnings, Kiwibank and Countdown.
ASB and Z Energy ranked in 11th and 12th spots.
Pak'n Save climbed back to second place in the rankings this year, swapping places with TVNZ. Pak'n Save ranks at the top for fairness, and almost snatched the crown from Air NZ, despite supermarkets being the focus of a Commerce Commission pricing study of the grocery sector.
The supermarket chain was perceived to have looked after its workers during the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown, which had a positive impact on its reputation.
Conversely, the issues Air New Zealand faced with booking cancellations last year saw its reputation in some areas, particularly in the fairness category, stumble, the report outlined.
Sarah Bolger, head of Colmar Brunton, said frontrunner Air New Zealand had "built up a bank of goodwill that had been drawn down on during the Covid pandemic", but admitted she was surprised to see it retain the top spot in this year's index.
"After a challenging year it still retains its reputational lead by a small margin, signalling just how resilient the airline is," Bolger said, adding that Air New Zealand had fallen in the fairness pillar of the ranking this year.
She said the national carrier was in a very significant lead prior to 2020.
Toyota has consistently sat in fourth place for the last three years and AA Insurance has also performed consistently in the top 5.
Bunnings rose sharply in the rankings this year due to its perceived good value, jumping up four places from 12th spot to eighth, while ASB rose six places from 17th to 11th place, as result of strong marketing visibility, community involvement and its All Black sponsorship.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said he was humbled that the airline had been awarded the top accolade given the operating environment of the past 15 months.
"I'm delighted for our whole team, who have been through a year of enormous upheaval and taken it all in their stride. Our people are the reason we've been able to continue flying throughout the pandemic when not many other airlines have, bringing New Zealanders home and continuing to ensure Kiwi products reach the world."
Foran said he would like to thank Air New Zealand customers who had understood the challenges the company had faced over the past year: "We haven't always got it right, but we've tried to be open about the human impact of those challenges."
Zespri, Lotto NZ, The Warehouse, Southern Cross, Mainfreight, 2Degrees, Auckland International Airport and NZ Post also made the top-20 ranking for reputation.
Trust was the biggest driver of good corporate reputation among consumers, Bolger said.
"In the year of Covid and times of uncertainty, people have been known to turn to brands that they trust. Responsibility is becoming increasingly important, driven by how organisations treat their employees and also how they take care of the environment.
"We've seen an increase year-on-year of the importance of responsibility towards reputation. Leadership is one of the bigger contributors to reputation and we've noticed that people's expectations of leadership are changing."
Bolger said the media and entertainment sector, telecommunications and distribution sector and the insurance sector had each come out of the other end of the pandemic "in a more positive light" reputation-wise.
The Colmar Brunton Corporate Reputation Index ranks the reputations of NZ's top 50 consumer facing corporates across 16 industries by revenue as listed in the Deloitte Top 200.