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This week: Ten steps to guaranteeing consumer trust…
Edelmen published its 2020 Trust Barometer earlier this year and to put it bluntly, the results weren’t good. The news is that consumer trust is still super low; and that continued economic uncertainty has meant a growing mistrust of institutions such as governments, media, global companies and brands.
The research consultancy reported that both job insecurity and wealth inequality continue to grow – meaning widespread and ‘deep-seated fears about the future’ among global consumers. Factors such as the continued threat of another global recession, the onset of climate change and the rise of far-right politicians have meant heightened scepticism around everything from party politics to brand marketing campaigns. In short, gaining trust has never been more difficult.
Edelmen’s advice is to embrace a whole new strategy for building trust: ‘balancing competence with ethical behaviour’. With this in mind, we asked our global community what they believe brands can do to buck the trend, and become a trusted friend to their legions of potential customers…
As ever, our global community answered emphatically and from their list of responses, we’ve compiled a ten-step toolkit to building consumer trust…
1. Show your workings
Our community trust brands that are open, honest and transparent about everything they do. In the light of some major global brands being exposed for ‘greenwashing’ (making misleading claims about their own sustainable credentials), it’s more important than ever that marketing messages are rooted in genuine actions.
“Be real about the supply chain and products used. Lying about bring ‘sustainable’ is more damaging to their reputation than using the (wrong) products in the first place…” Bulbshare user 🇦🇺
“For sure they could give tangible proof of what they do… It is not enough for me to hear their statements, I would appreciate having the instruments to see proof of what they say they are doing. If a company says that they will plant a tree for every 100 t-shirts sold, I would love a kind of Google Earth of the zone where they are doing it in order to see if the green area grows or not…” Bulbshare user 🇬🇧
2. Quality, heritage, tradition
The word ‘quality’ cropped up time and time again in our survey, with our community telling us that products and services rooted in tradition, heritage and provenance are key to building a brand’s reputation.
“I trust the brands that produce quality products. I could mention Italian food brands such as La Molisana or Rummo Pasta… In fact, there are many Italian food brands that present artisan products that reflect the authenticity of the territory.” Bulbshare user 🇮🇹
3. Be ethical
Ethics is still key, with both younger and older consumers continuing to place massive importance on genuine moral and social purpose. Check out our community’s Purpose Power report for ten brands admired by our community for their ethical stance and actions.
“The brand I really trust is Toyota. This company really cares about the environment and the future of our planet. It is no coincidence that this company leads the rankings of the most ethical companies in the world. I feel proud that I own a car of this brand.” Bulbshare user 🇷🇺
4. Listen to your customers, collaborate and co-create
A recent report from research firm Iris identified ‘participation brands’ as those that involve their consumers in their creative and marketing processes, saying that these brands ‘outperform the market, drive advocacy and command a premium’. Our community couldn’t agree more, consistently telling us how ‘being involved’ is the most powerful way to build trust. Check out our toolkit on How to Become a Participation Brand for a step-by-step guide to putting customer voice into the heart of your operations.
6. Be local
As reported in our Active Altruism piece, our community values brands that support their local communities. If you want to build trust, looking after your own is a simple way to get there. Invest in local community projects, source locally and partner with other local businesses.
“Co-op is trustworthy. It does so much for the local community… British products and local suppliers are great for our economy.” Bulbshare user 🇬🇧
7. Choose a cause
Our community gets behind brands that are vocal about the causes they support. Our Moral Brands report shows how our community trusts organisations that put causes at the heart of their messaging and publish the real-life work that they are doing.
“The brand that I trust is Lucozade as in the summer of 2019 to get the nation behind England’s Women’s team, Lucozade Sport rewrote the unofficial anthem of the World Cup ‘Three Lions’ as a powerful testament that expresses the trials and tribulations of overcoming prejudices against women in sport.” Bulbshare user 🇬🇧
8. Honesty is the best policy
It sounds obvious, but our community doesn’t trust brands that lie. If you’re going to make big claims about your moral and social integrity, make sure they’re impervious to scrutiny. Modern consumers are savvy and will spot a half-truth a mile off. Honesty is paramount for our consumers.
“They must be honest first of all! If they write that there is no sugar, then I want no sugar. A customer must know what they are really buying.”Bulbshare user 🇵🇱
“Be honest and truly do what they say, instead of showing fake facts to prove they are good when they are not.” Bulbshare user 🇮🇹
“Be consistent and have a strong message that they follow and inspire others to as well…” Bulbshare user 🇬🇧
10. Save the world
It goes without saying that modern brands are expected to be morally and socially responsible. But in an era when governments are widely considered to be falling short on tackling global problems such as wealth inequality and climate change, it falls to brands to help save the world.
“(I trust) companies looking for the best solutions to overcome the problems that grip the planet and its delicate life cycle and struggles.” Bulbshare user 🇮🇹
“Brands should organise the recycling of garbage that remains after using their products, as well as directly offering their customers the opportunity to bring garbage for recycling. This responsibility to people and nature is worthy of respect and determines the authenticity of the brand.” Bulbshare user 🇬🇧