LONDON: UK consumers are among the most sceptical in the world when it comes to brand advertising, with fewer than two in ten believing what companies tell them, a new study has found.

The Global RepTrak 100 study by the Reputation Institute surveyed 55,000 consumers across 15 markets to measure corporate reputation among the public. Globally, 25% of consumers indicated they felt they could trust what companies said in their advertising; the remainder were classified as neutral, disbelieving or unsure.

At 15.4%, UK consumers were in the bottom four, just above France, Germany and Japan, Marketing Week reported.

According to Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at the Reputation Institute, those companies that had successfully built trust had avoided a simple emphasis on "pushing product" and had instead sought to engage with customers on social media and to co-create campaigns with them.

He warned that, at the very least, companies "need to get their good stories out there as a buffer to the negative claims", since the mix of social media and critical consumers could be "toxic".

The top five brands with the best reputation globally were Walt Disney, Google, BMW, Rolex and Sony. In Europe, Sony came out on top, followed by Samsung, BMW and Volkswagen.

But not one company appeared in the top ten across all the markets surveyed, which points to the difficulties brands face in exporting reputation internationally. "There is a major opportunity to drive growth if [a brand] can get this right," said the report.

Writing in the latest issue of Market Leader, Paul Kemp-Robertson, cofounder of marketing agency Contagious Communications, said consumers trusted their peers and brands more than governments or regulators, making brand reputation even more important.

He suggested that brands could act to fill spaces left by governments, citing the example of Coca-Cola's Ekocenters - a kind of community hub. Developments such as this would certainly meet Nielsen's requirement for a "good story".

Kemp-Robertson also said brands would benefit from contextual integration, which recognises the different roles each individual plays in different parts of their life, while technology enabled brands to focus on experience and service in new ways, including through 'living services' which learn and adapt to customer needs.

Data sourced from Marketing Week, Market Leader; additional content by Warc staff