11/03/2014 - 05:27

Creating a fast-track to trust

11/03/2014 - 05:27


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Creating a fast-track to trust

What is it that makes a consumer willing to continue using the same brand without question, to share their purchase and personal data through a loyalty program, to provide their mobile phone number and bank details for an online purchase, or to sponsor a charity program via ongoing direct debit?

Ultimately, a degree of trust is required from consumers in any brand relationship.

With increasing consumer choice, digital supply channels, growing transparency (through social media) and reduced time for decision making, brands must increasingly demonstrate and foster trust to engage consumers, increasingly without any person-to-person contact.

At a macro level, trust lubricates economic and social activity; we purchase from and engage with others more freely and efficiently when there is a level of trust in place.

We can see this as a ‘trust exchange’ where brands and consumers build trust through an exchange of actions and rewards – the customer trusts the brand to deliver and, in return, buys exclusively and recommends the brand to their friends.

Traditionally, trust is something that builds over time, through positive personal experiences. But in today’s world, do brands need to act differently to foster trust?  

New retail models built through crowdsourcing are a demonstration of how a non-existent brand can quickly build a following, engaging supporters and customers before they even produce any items.

Take Gustin Denim, whose business model is ‘We design, you back our product, we deliver’.

Only when sufficient numbers of customers have backed a given design will the company start production, allowing it to operate and sell at a significantly lower cost than traditional retailers.

That’s a demonstration of trust in both directions – the customer trusts the product to deliver on expectations, and the brand trusts customers to follow through.

Research shows considerable variations in the levels of consumer trust.

Neilsen’s Global Online Consumer Survey found that 90 per cent of consumers trust recommendations from friends, while 70 per cent trust consumer opinions posted online.

The 2013 Edelman Global Trust Barometer found that consumers display the highest trust in technology companies, and the lowest trust in financial services companies.

In media terms, traditional media and online search engines are more widely trusted than social media activity generated by brands, though recommendations from friends can be the most powerful trust drivers.

Knowing that trust is vital, and variable, brands these days need to actively create trust, and fast track its development rather than wait for it to build.

Metrix investigated the factors that contribute to trust for consumers.

This involved surveying 1,000 consumers in Western Australia using Researchpanel’s omnibus.

The findings show that consumers are more likely to trust a brand with traditional characteristics, but what do you do if you’re a relatively new brand, or a digital offering that doesn’t have any physical presence?

Our research shows that using independent references or third-party endorsement can be a means of demonstrating trustworthiness, for the right target audience.

Among those surveyed, consumers aged under 40 years are inclined to trust a brand that is endorsed by an independent review (e.g. Google reviews) or a well-known and respected third party.

Offering transparency through the use of Facebook and Twitter has a varying impact on trust in a brand.

While communicating with customers through social media can enhance trust among young people, it can have the opposite effect on older consumers.

Of people over 40 years, 24 per cent of those surveyed are less likely to trust a brand that uses Facebook and Twitter to communicate with customers.

If your brand has the classic features of longevity, a physical presence, or is locally owned, then this can be used as a foundation for trust with consumers of all ages.

If your brand doesn’t have these things, you can look to independent or expert endorsement to create a basis of trust, especially for younger people, and then actively build trust through customer experiences.

If you can facilitate genuine referrals and advocacy from customers to their friends, family and colleagues, these personal recommendations create an initial level of trust that could not otherwise be achieved.


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