Edelman Trust Barometer: Only one-third of consumers trust the brands they use

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 19 June 2019

Brand trust is a deal breaker. 

A  special report from the Edelman Trust Barometer, In Brands We Trust?, prepared for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, finds that only one-third of consumers (34%) trust most of the brands they buy or use.

The survey of 16,000 in eight countries reveals that brand trust (81%) is a deal breaker or a deciding factor when they’re considering a purchase, trailing only quality (85%), convenience (84%), value (84%) and ingredients (82%).

Trust is a strong purchase consideration and is becoming more important to consumers because of growing concerns about product experience (62%), including the fast pace of innovation and their increasing reliance on brands for automation; customer experience (55%), including brands’ collecting consumers’ personal data and tracking and targeting them; and brands’ impact on society (69%), including consumers’ expectation that brands will help express their values.

“Trust has always played an important role in brand purchase,” says Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman.

“But consumers now have much larger expectations of brands, and their trust is predicated on how well a brand can pass through the three gates of trust—product, customer experience and impact on society.”

edelman trust

When brands build trust, consumers reward them. Consumers who trust a brand are more than twice as likely to be the first to buy the brand’s new products (53% versus 25%t).

They are more than twice as likely to stay loyal to a brand they trust, even in the face of disruption, such as a trendy or innovative competitor (62% versus 29%). They are more than twice as likely to advocate for a brand they trust (51% versus 24%), and almost twice as likely to defend it when things go wrong (43% versus 22%).

And when a brand is trusted on product, customer service and societal impact, the percentage of consumers who will buy first, stay loyal to, advocate for and defend it (68%) is 21 points higher than consumers who buy on product trust only (47%).

Despite its importance, brands are currently failing the trust test. A majority believe every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business (53%), yet fewer than one in four (21%) claim to know from personal experience that the brands they use keep the best interests of society in mind.

More than half (56%) said too many brands are using societal issues as a marketing ploy. And consumers have lost faith in brands and their ability to ignite social change: 41%, down five points from last year, believe brands have better ideas for solving a country’s problems than government; 49%, down four points from last year, say brands can do more to solve social ills than government; and 48%, down six points from last year, feel it’s easier for people to get brands to address social problems than to get government to take action.

Amanda Glasgow, global chair of Brand at Edelman, says consumers are wary that brands are ‘trustwashing’ and being less than truthful about their commitment to society.

“Talking about an issue in an ad isn’t enough," she says. "Brands need to go further to impact real change. This could be anything from advocacy to financial support to internal reforms.”


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