NEW YORK: Johnson & Johnson, General Mills and Google are the most popular brands among US consumers, a new study has revealed.

Forbes, the business magazine, partnered with Burson-Marsteller, Penn Schoen Berland and Landor - all units of WPP Group - to poll 2,500 internet users about 100 corporate brands, covering areas like product quality, ethics and overall engagement.

Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant, topped the charts, despite recently enduring several high-profile recalls and getting embroiled in equally widely-covered lawsuits.

This success was largely attributed to the strong levels of trust placed in J&J's babycare range. "That's a very powerful emotional connection that's hard to dislodge," said Scott Osman, Landor's global director of CSR.

General Mills, the food group, claimed second place, while Google was third, ahead of Kraft, also in the food category, Hershey, the confectionery specialist, and Apple, the electronics pioneer.

Kellogg, the cereal manufacturer, occupied seventh, while Home Depot, the DIY chain, was the leading retailer in eighth, beating Clorox, the household cleaning brand, in ninth, and Amazon, the ecommerce expert, in tenth.

Hershey took the honours when it came to ethics, followed by General Mills, Johnson & Johnson and Kraft. Despite some criticism about its environmental record, Apple was actually fifth in this segment.

Similarly, Hershey was the premier performer in terms of trustworthiness, with Kraft, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg the next highest-scorers respectively.

Mark Penn, CEO of Burson Marsteller and Penn Schoen Berland, argued the dominance of food companies reflected their long-standing reputations, but also a growing focus on responding to shopper requirements.

"The food industry has come a long way in the last decade in being very responsive to consumers' needs and that has made a considerable difference," he said.

Elsewhere, Apple was named as the most innovative firm, buoyed by the success of the iPhone and iPad. Microsoft grabbed second here, in front of Google, Johnson & Johnson and Sony.

Google led the rankings when participants assessed which brands "genuinely want to make a difference in the world", but was thirteenth regarding trust and seventeenth for ethics. "Those two areas hold it back from being number one," said Penn.

Data sourced from Forbes; additional content by Warc staff