American adults don’t automatically place their trust in businesses, according to Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands 2022 report [download page]. Indeed, they’re almost equally as likely to not trust businesses as a default as to tend to trust them.

In its survey of 2,200 US adults, Morning Consult found that 42% agreed with the statement: “I tend to trust companies. They must do something bad to lose my trust.” By comparison, an almost equal share (39%) agreed more with the statement: “I tend to not trust companies. They must earn my trust.” The remaining fifth (20% share) said they either didn’t know or did not have an opinion.

Among the 10 markets surveyed, respondents in China emerged as the most trusting of businesses, with 64% agreeing with the statement that they tend to trust companies. A majority in South Korea (53%) and India (53%) also agreed. Although only 40% in Japan concurred, a plurality (44%) there did not have an opinion, with just 16% share indicating that they tend not to trust companies.

Meanwhile, respondents in Germany and Canada were slightly more likely to say they tend to not trust businesses than to do so, while the gap was widest in France (44% not trusting and 35% trusting, respectively).

In the US, businesses that are trusted will be rewarded, though perhaps not to the extent seen in other countries. Some 39% share of respondents in the US agreed that when they trust a company, they go out of their way to purchase from them. Even so, a slightly larger share (43%) said that when they trust a company, they will purchase from them, but not necessarily more than they would from another company they trust less.

The US ranked 8th out of the 10 markets in terms of the share willing to go out of their way to buy from a company they trust. The markets most likely to do so were again found in Asia, led by India (52%), South Korea (51%) and China (50%). Once again, Japan was at the bottom of the list (22%), with adults in that market being the most likely (65%) to say that trust wouldn’t influence their purchase behavior.

Previous research from Morning Consult has found 88% of consumers globally agreeing that they buy more from brands that they trust.

There are penalties from consumers’ loss of trust in brands. Slightly more than half (54%) in the US said they have lost trust in a company or brand, and among those 42% stopped using them and started using their competitors’ products, while 39% stopped using them and claimed they will never use them again. By comparison, 1 in 5 stopped using them but would be willing to consider using them again, and 1 in 10 continue to use the brand.

Factors That Build Trust

Within the US, two factors stand out as being the most important in building trust: good value for price; and high-quality products and services. These have previously been seen to be among the most important building blocks of trust. US respondents also place above-average relative importance on ethical business practices, but comparatively less on a commitment to sustainability and standing for something beyond profit.

Most Trusted Industries and Brands

Among institutions, respondents in the US trust small businesses the most, with 72% of respondents saying they trust them “a lot” or “some.” By comparison, just 46% trust corporations to that degree, and even fewer (38%) trust major global corporations to that extent. That gap between small and big business has also been found in previous research from Gallup.

Among industries, Food & Beverage ranks highest (72%), ahead of Health Care (64%), and Financial Services (63%). Of the industry sectors listed, Technology ranks in the bottom half, in line with a recent study indicating that the public’s trust in the Tech industry is falling.

Meanwhile, the least trusted institution or industry in the US, on par with major global corporations, is social media, trusted by just 38% of respondents. This comes after a new report from Axios and Harris Poll reveals that social media companies comprise 3 of the 10 least reputable companies in the US (among the 100 most visible companies).

Separately, the industries that are trusted the most in the US also appear atop the list of those for which respondents believe trust is most important. Health Care is the sector for which the highest share of respondents say that trust is important, followed by Financial Services. Although fewer say that trust is important for the Food & Beverage industry, it still ranks third among all.

Finally, the list of most trusted brands in the US is led by Band-Aid, with a net trust score of 57.73. It’s followed by Lysol (55.54), Clorox (55.26), UPS (53.93) and CVS Pharmacy (53.21).

The net trust score is determined by calculating the share of respondents who said they trust each brand to do the right thing “a lot” or “some” minus the share who said “not much” or “not at all.”

For the full list and for more data on brand trust, download the report here.

About the Data: Morning Consult describes its methodology as follows:

“The Research Intelligence dataset was fielded April 8-14, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,200 U.S. adults, 1,299 South Korean residents and 1,000 residents each in Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan and the U.K.”

“The Brand Intelligence dataset was gathered March 3-April 3, 2022, among representative samples of 4,614 to 6,401 adults from the countries above.”

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