NEW YORK: Coca-Cola, Google and Nestlé are among the firms with the best reputations worldwide, but there is a gap between perceptions of big brand owners' social standing and their actual products.

WPP-owned firms Burson-Marsteller, Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and BrandAsset Consulting polled 40,000 shoppers in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Russia and the US.

They found the "performance" of leading firms in terms of their products and services, yielded an average rating of 66%, versus 55% for citizenship activities like being "socially responsible" and "helpful".

Performance scores peaked at 69% in Russia, 68% in China and 67% in Germany, declining to a low of 60% for the Brazilian panel.

Citizenship totals hit 60% in China, 56% in Germany and 54% in Brazil and the US, falling to 51% in Japan and 50% in Russia. In all of the featured nations, these figures lagged those registered by goods and services.

By country, global brands enjoyed the strongest reputation in China on 64%, standing at 58% in Germany, 58% in the US and Russia, and 56% in Brazil and Japan.

In category terms, the technology sector had the highest ratings on 62%, ahead of 58% for automotive, 57% for personal care, 56% for apparel and accessories, 56% for food and beverages, 51% for banking and 46% for oil and gas.

For citizenship, personal care posted 56%, technology hit 55%, the same as food and beverages, automotive logged 52% and apparel yielded 49%, all behind overall reputation totals.

Among the 25 brand owners recording the most impressive scores were adidas, Apple, Coca-Cola, Danone, Google, Heinz, Nestle, Nike and Sony, the analysis revealed.

The average member of this elite cohort had been trading for 87 years, and 80% of this group were founded before 1950, suggesting established businesses have a clear advantage.

"In an increasingly transparent world, isolated programs and insufficient or insincere commitments will undermine corporate reputations," said Craig Branigan, chairman of Landor Associates.

Larger enterprises also secured the best returns, with companies boasting over 150,000 staff on a typical score of 67%, falling to 55% for their counterparts claiming less than 50,000 employees.

Data sourced from Burson-Marsteller; additional content by Warc staff