Which brands do consumers consider the most authentic? What does it mean to be authentic in today's market? And can companies remain authentic even when they grow?

Authenticity is a word readily bandied about in marketing, and more and more businesses are striving to align with this increasingly valued concept.

At one time, authenticity meant having a strong set of brand values, goals, and mission in place before starting a business. Now, however, it's about more than that, as brands that expand and grow can lose sight of their initial purpose.

The World's Most Authentic Brands

A 2014 study by Cohn & Wolfe revealed which brands customers perceive to be the most "authentic." The study covered 12 countries and asked customers about which factors engender enough trust in a company for it to be considered authentic.

In the UK, supermarkets and department stores led, with M&S, Tesco, and John Lewis ranking as most trusted.

Globally, however, the leaders varied, ranging from fast food chains (McDonald's, KFC, and Starbucks), to tech pioneers (Samsung and Apple) and household stores (Wal-Mart and Carrefour).

What Authentic Companies Are Doing Right

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Adele Halsall is a writer and researcher for Customer Service Guru. She is passionate about retail and consumer trends, and how they are shaped by advertising and social marketing.