BOSTON — Well-made products at fair prices may be big draws, but, when it comes to boosting companies’ reputations, having a higher purpose could trump everything else in the year ahead, according to the latest study from the Reputation Institute.

The 2020 Global Trends in Reputation study ranked delivering on corporate purpose the most important thing businesses can do to raise their stature with consumers, particularly if relayed in an emotional way that transcends the products and services they sell.

Protecting data privacy, investing responsibly, mitigating the risks of new technology and protecting the planet (while controlling their own negative impact) round out the top five trends that will help brands find favor with stakeholders.

Having respected influencers, taking steps to reduce mistrust, responsibly sourcing materials (sustainability), having an activist CEO and promoting equality through diversity & inclusion brings the number of top 2020 reputational trends to 10.

“Dated business values are out for 2020 and for the foreseeable future,” said Reputation Institute CEO Kylie Wright-Ford. “Last year’s updated statement by the Business Roundtable on the purpose of a corporation—a commitment to serve all stakeholders, not just shareholders—was a catalyst in inspiring companies to link a higher purpose to business. Organizations are realizing that with a strong purpose and shared values, they’re able to reduce their reputational risks across the board as higher purpose drives higher levels of overall public support.”

Trade tariffs, fake news, political polarization and nationalism vs. globalism were four trends included on the 2019 list that were missing on this year’s. Immigration, tweeting, Gen Z, and employee activism are among other high-profile trends that didn’t make the cut.

The study was based on the responses of more than 200 senior-level reputation leaders representing 18 industries in companies across North America, EMEA, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.  The research was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2019.