The survey asked consumers how they rated specific brands, with Marks & Spencer, Tesco and John Lewis voted as the top three, as well as how they defined brand authenticity.
The report, Authentic Brands, is the third in a series of similar studies by the agency.
Marks & Spencer also came out top in last year’s report, which focused on brand transparency.
The agency surveyed 12,000 consumers across 12 countries, with 1,000 surveyed in each country, to produce a top 10 list both globally and in the UK:
|In the UK||Globally|
|Marks & Spencer||McDonald's|
Across the global sample, supermarkets were voted the most authentic sector with 52 per cent of the vote, whereas alcohol companies and fast-food chains came out bottom with 27 and 32 per cent respectively.
The most important factor for all 12 countries was that a business should communicate honestly about its products and services. Least important was that a brand has a relevant and engaging story.
The UK was ranked most cynical when it came to judgement and expectation of businesses, with only three per cent of UK consumers agreeing that businesses are transparent, compared with the global average of 10 per cent and the peak in Indonesia at 40 per cent.
According to the report, 95 per cent of UK consumers said that "not letting customers down" was the most important business behaviour.
Andrew Escott, managing director at Cohn & Wolfe, said: "As more and more corporate scandals come to light, consumer perceptions of businesses are suffering. While no brand is immune to a crisis, we’ve seen again and again that those brands that act with honesty and integrity recover faster and are more respected by consumers than those that don’t.
"This study was conducted before the scandal around Tesco‘s profits emerged. What it shows is that Tesco has built a solid foundation of consumer trust that it can still use to protect its business, but it will need to act quickly and transparently."