Consumers in the UK are among the most sceptical in the world, making it more important than ever for brands remain authentic and transparent, even in the face of scandal, according to a new study by Cohn & Wolfe, the global communications and public relations agency.

Polling 12,000 consumers across 12 countries the study found that poor food safety and hygiene is the issue most likely to induce anger among global and UK consumers.

The survey ranked the top 10 most authentic brands in the UK, which included eight supermarket retailers as well as Virgin and Amazon. Globally, Apple, Starbucks, KFC, Google and HSBC were rated amongst the top 10 most authentic brands with McDonald’s at number one.

The research showed that the UK consumer market is one of the most demanding in the world. ‘Not letting customers down’ is the most important business behaviour for Brits, with 95% of those surveyed agreeing - the highest across all 12 markets in the study.

It found that three quarters of global consumers would be extremely angry if a company was found to produce food in an unsanitary way. This concern is even higher in the UK.

It was also revealed that nearly nine in 10 global consumers feel it’s important for businesses to act with integrity at all times, surpassing the number who rate striving to innovate and bringing unique products to market as factors in their buying decisions.

Andrew Escott, Managing Director at Cohn and Wolfe Corporate Affairs said: “As more and more corporate scandals come to light, consumer perceptions of businesses are suffering: Just 3% of individuals in the UK believe big businesses are very transparent and honest. 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 who don’t.

“For instance, this study was actually conducted before the scandal around Tesco‘s profits emerged. What it shows is that Tesco has built a solid foundation of consumer trust that they can still use to protect their business, but they will need to act quickly and transparently.”