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Trust- the new imperative for marketing effectiveness and brand growth

Laurent Guillaume
Country Leader
Kantar Group - France


Trust: the new imperative for marketing effectiveness and brand growth

Trust is becoming more important for brand growth than ever, and harder to maintain in this fast-changing world. Genuinely Consumer centric brands with purpose, which deliver quality, will win.  

In the previous editions of Brand Z, we found an increasing link between trust and growth. Brands with low trust scores are seeing their brand value fall by as much as 3 percent, while those with high trust scores are seeing their value increase by 17 percent.

In general, we also know that trust accounts for a third of brand equity. But this year, we wanted to dig a little deeper.

Kenneth Arrow, at the time of the award of his Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 1972, stated: “Much of the delay in the economic development of a society is due to the lack of mutual trust between its citizens.” From this point of view, trust is naturally associated with development, freedom and a certain form of harmony.

More specifically for brands, trust means the ability to create a strong and lasting relationship with its audiences. The basic contract is adequality meeting the brand’s expected needs and uses. But today, in a context of widespread mistrust, increasingly there are new requirements. These include sincerity, ethics and commitment. And proving these is becoming essential.

In our study on the levers of trust carried out at the annual conference of the Union des Marques in May 2019, we found that trust in brands is steady, for the most part. However, when it comes to political parties, social networks and the media, there is mistrust.

This perspective is important. It’s a testament to the quality of the work done by marketers. But it also means marketers need to be vigilant and understand more precisely the levers of trust.  More than half of consumers tell us they stop consuming or using a brand when they lose trust in it. And a third of them do not hesitate to share their disappointment with their family and friends.

Building confidence capital: four essential levers

  1. Constant vigilance: respect the basic contract with your consumers. The quality must be always there, and brands must also keep their promises. This may seem trivial but many companies, not least in the food industry and internet commerce sector, have suffered because of crises in consumer confidence. And this has had a lasting impact on their businesses. This is not without consequences for marketing and communication, either. When the basic contract is in question, brands must be able to fall back on the core functional product while avoiding excessively focusing on more fluid “aspirational symbols.”

  1. Listen genuinely to me: your consumers want a real dialogue.

 More than two thirds of consumers tell us that trust is created on the basis of genuine consideration for their opinion. This can be as simple as an easily reachable consumer service, or the ability to acknowledge mistakes. On the other hand, excessive solicitation and promotion is detrimental. Three quarters of consumers tell us that mistrust is created when the brand only seeks to sell its products and services. Brands must always be listening and responding.

  1. Respect my data: consumers are realistic and not easily fooled. They know that in the digital age they are constantly being tracked and that their data is valuable. They are not necessarily against it, but they do want to give their full consent. For two thirds of them it is an essential condition of trust that companies do not interfere in their lives without consent and that their personal data is protected. Of course, many marketers will tell you that data is used to improve and personalize products and services. But only one third of consumers tell us this creates trust.

  1. The power of purpose: think about the positive impact your brand can have on the world. Or try to. Two thirds of the interviewees tell us that trust is created when a brand has a set of values it adheres to, when it takes into account health and environmental issues, and when it has a positive impact on the world. The Anglo-Saxons called this “purpose.” Our studies show that some brands have already understood this and are benefiting in terms of brand capital and growth. But beware, we must go beyond words. There is no “purpose” without action and the ability to demonstrate this commitment.

The bigger context is that we are seeing a redefinition of the company’s role in society. During the Biarritz G7, 34 multinationals came together to launch Business for Inclusive Growth—in other words, growth that is sustainable, democratic, and inclusive to all. In this changing world, consumers are becoming more demanding of brands. But trust is also becoming more volatile. For continued growth, constant attention to trust has never been more important.