If one measurement of a return to economic stability is rising consumer trust in corporations, things are looking up. The 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer indicates that the number of consumers who trust corporations to do the right thing, in general, grew 18%, from 36% to 54% in the past year.

But consumer trust does not spread evenly among all types of business. For example, 59% of consumers believe business and finance companies will soon return to their own ways. Only 29% of U.S. consumers trust banks while 78% trust technology companies.

Here’s what consumers believe are the most important factors when considering corporate reputation:

  • Transparent and honest practices 83%
  • Company I can trust 83%
  • High quality products/​services 79%

Consumers also turn to a variety of sources for information for everything ranging from general to specific news. But not all media forms are viewed as particularly trustworthy. Here are the percentages of consumers who consider the following media forms or other information sources to be trustworthy.

  • Radio 38%
  • Conversations with friends/​peers 37%
  • TV 36%
  • Online search 25%
  • Newspaper articles 34%
  • Corporate communications 32%
  • Social networking site 19%
  • Corporate/​product advertising 17%

It’s interesting to note that the trust in corporate and product advertising dropped from 2008 along with trust in all other categories. In 2008, 25% of opinion elites between the ages of 25 and 34 and 20% of opinion elites between the ages of 35 and 64 said corporate advertising was a credible source of information.

All of this data suggests that while consumers are gradually learning to trust businesses once again, they are being careful when it comes to letting one or more specific forms of media have too much influence over their opinions and perhaps their purchase decisions.  Study results reinforced the concept that multiple information sources enhance credibility. About 60% of consumers said that after they hear something between 3 to 5 times, they begin to believe the information is true.

These findings should lead marketers to spread their message over multiple forms of media to enforce initial impressions and improve sales.

[Source: 201 Edelman Trust Barometer, 2008 Edelman Trust Barometer]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.