Marketers have a difficult task ahead for 2010. First, they need to convince consumers to start buying products and services again. Second, depending on the industry they operate in, marketers might also need to prove they’re trustworthy. That’s the finding of a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll.

It may not be surprising to some industry watchers that financial services firms have their work cut out for them when it comes to regaining trust. Here’s a list of industries, topped by financial services, that consumers find least trustworthy:

  • Financial services companies 38%
  • Pharmaceutical companies 29%
  • Auto companies 19%
  • Fast food companies 10%
  • Soft drink companies 4%

Consumers in the South found financial services companies least trustworthy (41%). In addition, consumers over age 55 had one of the highest rates of skepticism when it came to financial services firms.

On the other hand, the following percentages of consumers found these same industries most trustworthy:

  • Soft drink companies 34%
  • Fast food companies 22%
  • Pharmaceutical companies 18%
  • Auto companies 14%
  • Financial services firms 13%

Interestingly, consumers over age 45 had a much lower rate of trusting soft drink companies than younger consumers. While 18-34 year olds (39%) and 35-44 year olds (40%) trusted soft drink companies more, that rate dropped for 45-54 year olds (32%) and consumers ages 55 (27%).

The bottom line from this study seems to be that marketers must take consumer age and geographic location into account when designing ad campaigns, especially if they operate in an industry that has come under recent scrutiny.

[Source: Advertising by Soft Drink Companies Seen as Most Trustworthy by One-Third of Americans, Harris Poll, company release, 2.15.10]