How Should Brands Manage Trust?

BY Kathy Crosett
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If the last few years have taught consumers anything, it’s the importance of their power in influencing the behavior of leaders who represent popular brands. Brands that have not taken the expected actions during the pandemic, the social justice movement or the increasingly polarized elections have faced a swift erosion of trust and possible cancellation. How serious is the problem for brands? And how should brands manage trust? The new Catalyzing Consumer Trust in a Changing World report by Morning Consult offers great insight.

How Should Brands Manage Trust

The question of how brands should manage trust is really about what trust means and how consumers change their behavior when they lose faith. When consumers trust brands, they are more likely to:

  • Engage with them on social media 40%
  • Follow them on social media 39%
  • Share personal information 33%
  • Pay more for the product 27%
  • Work harder to find the product 22%
  • Forgive their mistakes 19%

Most importantly, they continue to do business with the brand.

Who Do Consumers Trust?

The good news is over 60% of consumers inherently trust small business owners. Our proprietary research found that 67% of consumers believe small business owners to be credible in what they do and say. However, only 30% trust leaders of big companies, thinking public companies have shareholders to answer to.

Researchers also found consumers believe trust is more important in companies that provide specific services: those in the health care, financial, and food and beverage industries.

The Pandemic Impact

In the U.S., 22% of consumers trust brands less since the pandemic started while 22% trust brands more. The pandemic is just one factor impacting consumer trust. In the past two years, we’ve also experienced significant social upheaval. Research reveals that 23% of consumers trust brands less as a result of their actions with regard to racial equality and the presidential election.

What does this mean? If consumers sense your clients only paid lip service to the racial and social justice movement, trust will erode. They’ll decide your client’s inaction is a signal that they don’t care about social conditions in the U.S. Or they may decide that one social media post on the topic is insufficient.

However, if they see your client taking action such as hiring employees from marginalized groups, their trust may increase. Specifically, your clients can build trust by demonstrating positive action on key consumer concerns.

  • Always take care of employees 94%
  • Have products available when consumers want them 93%
  • Give back to society 85%
  • Have a mission that’s greater than the profit motive 82%

Consumers have big expectations for business. And irresponsible or unethical behavior on your client’s part could definitely drive away customers.

Your clients face a delicate balance on the political front with 60% of consumers taking political stance into account when they make purchases from a brand. In fact, slightly more, 61%, expect brands they do business with to “play a role in influencing political, societal and/​or cultural issues.” 

Delivering Value

What really matters to consumers is that they’re getting what they pay for. Researchers measured functional and experiential drivers, which ranked most important in terms of whether consumers lose trust in a brand. A perceived drop in quality (43%) and a poor customer service interaction (41%) have been the key reasons for consumer to give up on a brand. Unethical behavior (24%) or damaging the environment, elements labeled social drivers by the research, led consumers to stop using brands as well.

The bottom line is “consumers are considerably more likely to seek out, pay more for, buy more of, recommend and forgive a brand if they trust it." Should your brands manage trust? Take a look at the Digital Audit by AdMall from SalesFuel. If the reviews on your client's brands aren't stellar, they should take action. 

Photo by JESHOOTS​.com from Pexels