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MISSION:INTANGIBLE, the blog of the Intangible Asset Finance Society, offers critical comments on intangible asset, corporate reputation, and finance; supplemented by quantitative reputation metrics. Intangible assets include business processes, patents, trademarks; reputations for ethics and integrity; quality, safety, sustainability, security, and resilience; and comprise 70% of the average company's value. MISSION:INTANGIBLE is a registered trademark of the Intangible Asset Finance Society.

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Amazon.com: Insight from reputation metrics

C. HUYGENS - Sunday, June 01, 2014
Last February, Harris Interactive, a marketing consultancy, reported that Amazon.com had landed in the top spot atop the reputation rankings of well-known companies. The press release went on to note that Apple, Google, along with The Walt Disney Company, Johnson & Johnson, and The Coca-Cola Company made the top five (er, perhaps six).

Amazon topped the Harris Interactive list again this year, and it ranked at the top of the North American league table of the Reputation Institute, another marketing consultancy. Bully for the marketers, says Jonathan Salem Baskin writing for Consensiv.  "The founding premise of the annual survey is pleasantly entertaining, much in the way that People magazine’s sexiest celebrity cover stories are fun for a fleeting moment, but the ranking provides no meaningful or actionable insights."

Let's look at metrics that do provide insight. The Steel City Re reputation metrics, as analyzed and reported by Consensiv, show that Amazon has experienced significant reputation erosion in the recent past evident in the current Reputation Premium of only 0.81% among the 29 firms in its internet retail peer group. The metrics, which are calculated weekly in contrast to the annual surveys from both Harris Interactive and the Reputation Institute, show something very important - extreme volatility in the Consensus Trend measure. Empirically, Consensus Trend measures in excess of 7% reflect a lack of coherence in stakeholder expectations and are signatures of pending or ongoing equity value erosion. At the close of markets Friday, Amazon was down 13% from its price November 1 having first peaked 10% higher in February. In contrast, the Nasdaq composite index is up about 8% making the net difference around -21%. From a risk perspective, Amazon's reputation is not at all healthy.

Baskin suggests that annual rankings are nice but not operationally useful. The empirically derived reputation metrics, on the other hand, are reported with sufficient frequency to enable management to do something about reputation other than gloat. This capability is useful when things take a turn for the worst.


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