NEW YORK: BMW, Sony and Walt Disney are seen as the "most reputable" companies in the world by consumers, according to a multimarket study.

The Reputation Institute, the consultancy, asked 47,055 people in 15 nations about the products, R&D, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and financial performance of major corporations.

BMW led the charts on 80.08 points, an increase of 0.65 points year on year. The carmaker is in the top ten on all the characteristics monitored.

Its figures rose to 85.79 points in its home market of Germany. While Japan and the US yielded scores in the seventies, these constituted strong returns, and reflected the trend of shoppers in a firm's home market awarding it four more points on average.

"For a company to earn a reputation above 80 on a global level is remarkable because we know how difficult it is to build a strong emotional connection outside of your home country," Kasper Ulf Nielsen, the Reputation Institute's executive partner, told Forbes.

Sony, the Japanese electronics manufacturer, was second on 79.31 points, a lift of 0.25 points on 2011, not least due to perceptions that it made high quality products.

While featuring in the top ten of 13 markets from a possible 15, Sony fell outside this cohort in Japan, where it logged 76.15 points. In South Korea, it was the final member of the top 50.

Walt Disney, the entertainment conglomerate, was third in the charts, down 0.58 points on 2011 to 78.92 points. This partly followed on from what Nielsen described as its "more mixed reputation" than other leading firms.

"In Japan, Australia, Russia, the UK, and Italy, Disney has an excellent reputation with scores above 84," he said. "But in India, China, France, and Brazil its reputation is at or below 70."

Daimler claimed fourth on 78.54 points, a slide of 0.49 points in the last 12 months. Along with BMW, it was joined in the top ten by Volkswagen, on 77.04 points, as German auto manufacturers dominated their industry.

Apple, the electronics pioneer, came next on 78.49 points, down 1.29 points year on year. However, in a year where Steve Jobs, its iconic CEO, passed away, the report argued its bond with shoppers was now "strong enough to carry the company past this loss".

Other players in the top ten were Google, the online giant, on 78.05 points, Microsoft, the IT firm, on 77.98 points, Canon, the imaging expert, on 76.98 points, and LEGO, the toymaker, on 76.35 points.

Based on the consumer survey, the study also found that corporations with scores of more than 70 points saw purchase intent rise by 59.5%, and likelihood to recommend by 54.5%.

Data sourced from Forbes/Reputation Institute; additional content by Warc staff