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As the wealth gap between affluent Americans and the rest widens, one-third (33%) of American consumers say trusting a brand is important because they are struggling financially and cannot afford to waste any money on a bad purchase. That figure comes from the latest research [pdf] by Edelman on brand trust, which surveyed 16,000 consumers across 8 global markets.

Trust has been a frequent theme as seen in several pieces of research. It’s an issue that’s keeping CMOs awake at night and that makes a significant impact on large purchase decisions. Furthermore, transparency attracts consumers to brands.

Below are a few key insights from the Edelman report. Note that the global percentages are based on an 8-market average of the countries surveyed.

Why Do Consumers Trust Brands?

So why do consumers trust brands? The study breaks down the reasons into three areas: product-oriented concerns; customer-oriented concerns; and societal-oriented concerns.

The most commonly given reasons are all about the product, with close to 9 in 10 (87% globally, 88% in the US) choosing at least one such reason. Close to three-quarters (73% global, same for US) said they trust a given brand because it delivers good quality products or services. Next was that the brand gets good ratings and reviews (57% globally, 63% US). Separate data shows that consumers have high expectations of how many reviews they want to see from brands, at least when shopping online. Half of respondents (49% globally, 51% US) also trust a brand because it charges a fair price for its products or services.

Customer-oriented reasons came next as to why consumers trust a given brand, with 56% of global respondents and a similar percentage in the US (57%) listing one of the three identified reasons. Within this category, reasons for trusting a brand include: that it has always treated the consumer and others well (39% global, 46% US); that it quickly addresses customer service problems (36% global, 35% US); and that it has done a good job protecting the privacy and security of their personal information (23% both globally and in the US).

More than one-third (38% global, 34% US) also list one of three societal-oriented reasons, the most common of which is that the brand treats its employees well (22% global and US).

Why Is Brand Trust Becoming More Important?

Close to 7 in 10 consumers surveyed (69% globally, 67% in the US) listed societal-focused concerns as to why trusting a brand they buy is important. Top of that list was the spread of fake news and false information on the internet, with around 42% of US respondents and 36% globally listing it as an issue.

Overall, around 6 in 10 of both US (57%) and global (62%) consumers listed product-oriented concerns. Within this, some 36% of global respondents (and 27% of those in the US) say that the pace of innovation with new products and services is one such reason for the rise in importance of brand trust, while 28% globally (33% US) say trust is more important because they are struggling financially and cannot afford to waste any money on a bad purchase.

Of note for brands offering e-commerce subscription services is that 1 in 5 global consumers and 1 in 6 in the US said brand trust is becoming more important because of their increasing reliance on brands to automate things they used to do themselves.

Separately, some 55% of global consumers and 59% of US respondents listed customer-oriented concerns for the rise in brand trust importance. Top of the list within this area relates to data privacy, as 43% of US respondents (35% globally) said trust in a brand they buy is more important because of the ever-increasing number of brands that have personal information in their databases.

Brand Trust Impacts Buying Decisions

The study also asked consumers for brand attributes that were either deal breakers or deciding factors in making a buying decision. While product attributes around quality, convenience and value were the most commonly cited reasons, 8 in 10 respondents (81% globally, 80% US) said that trusting a brand to do what is right is a deciding factor in a purchase decision.

Other issues related to corporate social responsibility are also deal breakers or deciding factors. Such considerations include the brand’s fair and responsible behavior when buying materials, products or services (79% global, 78% US), that it puts customer interests ahead of its own profits (78% global, 77% US) and that it is working to reduce its environmental impact (71% global, 69% US). Putting the customer first is something that has also been seen in other research: one study from MarketingSherpa found that the most broadly cited experience among dissatisfied customers was the company not putting their needs and wants above its own business goals.

Brand Trust Drives Loyalty

If consumers trust a brand they also exhibit behaviors that demonstrate loyalty. Some 8 in 10 US consumers (82%) and three-quarters (75%) of global respondents say they will continue to buy a brand they trust, even if another brand suddenly becomes hot and trendy. They’ll also advocate on the brand’s behalf, with a large majority (76% globally, 78% US) saying they always recommend the brand if someone asks.

More than half also say they are happy to pay more for a brand’s products/services (59% globally, 63% US) and they will continue to buy a product from a trusted brand even if a competitor is getting better reviews (69% globally, 75% US).

Other Highlights

A few other noteworthy points from the study follow:

  • Long-term trust builds ad receptiveness. While half (48%) of those surveyed said they pay attention to a brand’s advertising and communications even if they do not fully trust them, this rises to three-quarters (76%) when they have trusted a brand for a long time.
  • Three-quarters (74%) of respondents use at least one advertising avoidance strategy, including using ad blocking (48%), changing their media habits to see less ads (47%) or paying for streaming services (38%).
  • Some 6 in 10 (58%) say they have bought a new product in the last 6 months because of an influencer.

The full report can be accessed here.

About the Data: Figures are based on an online survey of 16,000 consumers conducted in April and May 2019. Percentages for global respondents are based on an 8-market average with 2,000 in each market (Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, UK and US) with samples being representative of age, region and gender.

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