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In Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Special Report, 53% of respondents said that brand trust is the most important deciding factor when purchasing a product, second only to price. That’s a pretty high percentage, and for good reason. Consumers don’t want to gamble on a product or service — they want a brand they know will deliver on its promises. 

Not only is today’s market extremely competitive, but we’re also in an age of heavy consumer-to-consumer marketing. Examples of consumer-to-consumer marketing include social media influencers sharing a product on their channel or a consumer posting a product review. Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust companies. You can make this consumer-to-consumer marketing culture work for you by building brand trust with consumers, inspiring them to become brand advocates and share your brand with others. The 2020 Edelman report depicts that over half of those ages 18 to 54 have changed their media habits to see less advertising and use ad blocking technology. Traditional ads are quickly becoming a tactic of the past. Brand trust is the way forward.

What Is Brand Trust?

A simple brand trust definition is the willingness of a consumer to rely on a brand to perform its declared function in a satisfactory way. In other words, your brand’s product or service did what it said it would to the extent that the consumer would buy it again. 

Brand trust requires brands to look beyond the transaction and build an actual relationship with consumers over time. It means solving consumers’ problems as promised. When Amazon really does deliver your package the next day or Bounty paper towels really do last longer — that builds brand trust. Once earned, brand trust leads to loyalty, more frequent engagement and advocacy from consumers.

According to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer Special Report:

  • 75% of consumers who feel high trust in a brand say they will shop with that brand exclusively, regardless of price point
  • 60% of consumers with high brand trust say they pay attention to the brand’s messaging and are comfortable sharing personal information with the brand
  • 78% with high trust report that they will share content about the brand, recommend it to others and defend it against criticism 

This data shows that winning brands don’t have to provide the cheapest product, but rather instill a sense of connection and comfort that makes consumers feel aligned with them.

Why Is Brand Trust Important?

Brand trust is important because the success and longevity of your business depend on it. Trust is the basis of all human relationships, and this definitely applies when connecting with a consumer. The average consumer avoids traditional advertising now more than ever. Nearly 70% of consumers say they now use at least one advertising avoidance strategy. At least 50% of consumers say they’ve now found a way to avoid almost all traditional advertising. Because consumers have so much control to tune brands out today, businesses must now get more creative to reach consumers, opting for authentic earned media (promotion generated by consumers or journalists) to differentiate themselves and cultivate trust. The biggest billboard on the busiest highway isn’t likely to reach consumers like it used to.

Consumers who trust a brand are happy to advocate for it. In fact, 81% of consumers report that the vulnerability they feel in regard to their finances, health and privacy increases the importance they put on brand trust. When you help solve common customer concerns and pain points, they’re going to reward you with trust. That trust then leads to brand loyalty.

How Do Brands Build Trust?

Though building brand trust is a unique journey for every business, here are steps every business should take. 

  1. Measure brand perception and engagement. Learn how consumers perceive your brand through polls, surveys, social media monitoring and advanced analytics
  2. Authentically engage with your customers. Trust-based marketing is built around showing that your brand is sincere, credible, and human. Talk to your customers as you would a neighbor at customer touchpoints.
  3. Team up to strengthen your brand’s clout. If there’s an influencer or industry expert who has already established trust or credibility with their own brand and aligns with your values, enlist them to promote your brand.
  4. Prioritize transparency. Be clear about who you are and what you stand for. And if someone has a bad experience with your product, don’t try to bury it. Use it as an opportunity to provide customer service and show you care.
  5. Actively manage customer touchpoints. Can you identify all the touchpoints where customers try to connect with you? Be sure you’re engaging and providing your brand quality at each touchpoint. 

Brands and marketers must monitor their brand trust to meaningfully build their brand equity.

Remember that brand trust is earned. It can’t be bought, and it doesn’t happen by chance. Retaining trust with your customers is an evolutionary process that will shift based on your customers’ immediate needs, desires and values as they navigate new challenges, like COVID-19, and new experiences, like becoming a parent — but it should always be at the top of your list. Remember, trust leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to longevity. 

Do you need help managing and optimizing your brand? Harris Brand Platform offers unrivaled brand intelligence, built on over 60 years of market research. Contact us to schedule a demo.

Zeke Hughes

Author Zeke Hughes

Zeke serves as Head of Growth with Harris with a specific focus on Harris Brand Platform. With deep experience in client development and customer success, Zeke supports Harris’ ongoing engagement efforts and supports successful onboarding experiences for new clients. He has spent much of his career supporting financial services and insurance clients across the Fortune 1000.

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