Is Jeff Bezos the Most Trusted Man in America?

The retail industry has never seen anything like Amazon. It is a search engine that rivals Google in terms of locating products, a platform for user-generated content with reviews, a third-party marketplace provider, a media powerhouse producing award-winning original programming and a leading provider of cloud computing services.

 The company's unconventional business model and unique value proposition for shoppers has earned Amazon a level of trust and loyalty not seen in the retail industry. Amazon, and by extension founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, consistently ranks at or near the top of various measures of trust, reputation and brand value.

It was the top-ranked company in the 2016 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient survey of more than 23,000 U.S. respondents, marking the eighth consecutive year it has been in the top 10. Amazon now ranks third on Fortune's listing of the World's Most Admired Companies, behind only Apple and Google.

"Amazon overtook Walmart three or four years ago to become the most valuable retail brand on the planet in a shift that is reflective of the changing mindset of the consumer," says David Roth, co-CEO of The Store, WPP's retail practice. "Amazon has been very clever about removing friction from the shopper's process of being interested in buying something to actually completing the transaction."

That cleverness shows up in the company's steadily climbing sales numbers, stock price and brand value, a metric Millward Brown seeks to quantify in the BrandZ report. Last year, Amazon's brand value surged 59%, roughly double that of Alibaba, the next closest retail company. Amazon advanced seven spots this year to rank seventh on the full list of the most valuable brands at $99 billion, while Walmart declined six spots to rank 32nd with a brand value of $27.3 billion.

The brand value, respect and trust accolades being heaped on the company stem largely from the pursuit of one of Bezos' foundational principles: to be customer-obsessed as opposed to competitor-focused. It is an important distinction and key to understanding Amazon's actions and experiments. For example, the Dash button seemed like an oddity when first introduced, but now more than 150 brands participate in the program. Offering free unlimited two-day delivery as a benefit of Prime was a pretty sweet deal, but then Amazon began offering same-day or one-hour Prime Now delivery. Now the Amazon Echo device and virtual assistant Alexa make ordering products even easier.

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