How can people make sure they will get the value they expect from the products they buy when there are so many options?
Brand trust is the confidence that the company, or the brand, that a buyer purchases from will solve their problems, earn their respect and give them the value they expect.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, brand trust is the second most important reason, after price, for why both consumers and businesses buy products. Buyers are looking for companies to deliver on their brand promise for several reasons.
Brand trust has become more critical as people feel uncertain about their health, finances and security. In 2020, nearly three-quarters of the US had to shift to working from home instead of their employer’s workplace, causing disruption in their personal lives and the lives of their families. Approximately 45% of consumers ordered via mobile app, reducing the amount of time they spent in-store shopping to examine product choices. And a significant number of people, 69%, are now more focused on their physical and mental health. Consumers have more considerable challenges, are shopping differently and desire a trusted relationship from companies.
People want the brands they buy from to be more responsible. Economic and social unrest is why 80% of people want companies to solve society's problems and 90% want companies to partner with government agencies to address significant issues.
When people feel uncertain, they look to products they can trust, making brand trust a significant factor in purchase decisions.
Solving problems goes beyond how a buyer uses a product.
Buyers want brands to provide information, product availability, service, easy returns, great pricing and fast delivery. It is the entire customer experience that solves the buyer’s problems, not just the product itself.
The majority of buyers, 85%, look to brands to solve their problems, while 69% want companies to be dependable. Also, 64% of buyers put their trust in companies to be a reliable source of information.
A company’s reputation contributes to brand trust. The buyer’s purchase decision reflects that they respect the brand and its values.
Buyers look to companies that treat their employees well and have high environmental standards and ethical business practices. Research shows that over 60% of buyers want companies to take active steps to include diversity in their communications, ensure product availability to all communities and take steps to address racial inequality. The consequences of not doing so are severe, with 60% of Americans indicating that they would no longer buy from companies that don’t take a firm stance on racial injustice.
Gone are the days when a celebrity or advertising claim was enough to convince a buyer to purchase a product. Now, brands must earn each buyer’s trust.
Approximately 60% of buyers believe their personal experience is one of the primary factors in their purchase decision. They trust industry experts and people like them as being most credible. Direct advertising is losing some of its impacts as people use more ad-blocking technology and commercial-free streaming services as well as avoid ads entirely.
Social media has a significant impact on buyers. Over 30% of millennials rely on social media for trusted advice, while only 17% look to celebrity endorsements to guide their choices. They rely less on ads and more on advice from people just like them who offer trusted opinions on social media.
Building brand trust takes time. They must earn both consumers’ and business buyers’ confidence that they will deliver on their brand promise.
Companies are continuing to explore how to build brand trust. Developing a trusted relationship with buyers takes time as companies strive to build brand loyalty, making their products preferable to competitor offerings.
Brand trust includes many aspects of the customer experience. Product performance, customer service, price, competition and brand image are all factors that build brand trust. Measuring that trust is essential to discover what actions they must take to build relationships with their customers.
The Net Promoter Score® or NPS® survey is a proven metric measuring customer experience and the overall brand image. NPS is a leading metric that indicates company growth and is used by major corporations to evaluate their brand perception.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the NPS survey categorises respondents into three categories:
NPS surveys help enterprise-level companies improve brand trust by better managing their customer experience, a key indicator of potential growth. It is easy to get started with an NPS survey using predefined questions that provide insights into brand trustworthiness and growth opportunities.
Companies can create their own survey that taps into the current brand perception. Starting with a brand perception survey template, marketers can ask existing customers or the target market questions.
Surveys include multiple choice questions about the respondent’s overall impression of the brand or open-ended questions that prompt respondents to offer their opinions.
Surveys that measure brand trust include questions about customer satisfaction, brand image (i.e. packaging and logos), product usage, competitor comparisons and overall opinion. Pre-designed templates make it easy to get started and get results fast.
Survey results will indicate where the brand is succeeding and what gaps need addressing, as well as reveal common issues, such as:
Packaging and logo need a refresh. If the survey respondents feel the product image is outdated, it may be time to develop new packaging or logos. Surveys can test to ensure that the new design creates the right brand image.
Customer experience improvement opportunities. Respondents will be vocal if they have had issues with customer service or having their problems resolved. Survey responses will indicate where companies can improve their brand trust by making customer problems easier or faster to sort out.
Market comparisons. Respondents will reveal whether products are keeping up with the competition or finding a comparable product that is better or less expensive. Companies can take advantage of this opportunity to improve their product or create new product concepts that can later be tested against the same audience.
Surveys are a great way to identify market opportunities and new product concepts or improve the customer experience. Once the data is compiled, companies will create new solutions that preserve their brand trust.
Creating brand trust is a journey, not a destination. New market offerings will tempt buyers to try alternative products, since consumers and business buyers are constantly bombarded with alternative product solutions.
Surveying the target audience two to four times per year keeps brands informed of ways to improve their products, policies and customer offerings. Because of current social uncertainties, buyers have emerging problems that will need new solutions. Marketers need to stay in touch with their audiences to understand purchasing habit shifts.
Brand trust is about confidence. Buyers not only want to trust that the product will solve their problems, but also that the company will continue to be trustworthy, reputable and a positive contributor to society. Tapping the customer pulse through surveys keeps companies informed of the changes they need in order to maintain their buyers’ confidence.
How familiar are you with this brand?
How would you describe your overall opinion of this brand?
How likely are you to purchase this brand?
When you think of this brand, what adjectives come to mind?
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement about this brand?
Brand A is a brand I can trust
On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this brand?
These are just a few of the questions that will measure a respondent’s level of brand trust. Companies also ask additional questions that reveal a deeper level of the target market’s relationship with the brand.
The Edelman Report indicated that 80% of people want companies to be a positive force in society. Brands should demonstrate that they are visionary and a positive force in society.
During the pandemic, companies needed to go the extra mile to protect their employees even if they incurred financial losses. Brand trust goes beyond what a product can do. The company that owns the brand must demonstrate that it can be trusted to do what is right for people and the environment by setting an example of high ethical standards. If they do, they will win buyers’ trust.
To demonstrate brand trust, companies must be transparent in their actions. Their products must do what they say they will do: solve buyers’ problems and meet their expectations.
They must be clear in what they say, offering free and helpful information to their community through content marketing, social media, advertising and other channels. The brand’s message must be distinct yet clearly state the value proposition.
Buyers expect companies to contribute solutions to more significant problems, partnering with government agencies or competitors to solve issues such as racism, poverty and abuse.
Overall, companies must clearly state what they are going to do and then do it. If they can do all of those things, they will build customer loyalty, brand loyalty and trust.
Between 2019 and 2020, there was a 12% increase in the number of people who responded that they trust the brands they use. This is an indication that once they find a brand they trust, they stick with it.
However, before brand trust is achieved, customers must be aware of the brand. Companies work on building brand awareness so buyers recognise their products. They build brand awareness by conducting marketing campaigns and then measuring the effectiveness of their efforts.
There are two types of brand awareness: aided and unaided. Aided brand awareness provides a list of brands and asks survey respondents to indicate whether they recognise a brand. Unaided brand awareness measures whether respondents can recall a product, business or service when they think of a product category.
Aided brand awareness survey question:
Which of the following bottled water brands have you heard of? (Select all that apply.)
Unaided brand awareness survey question:
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Brand trust requires developing a relationship with customers. Companies must be clear about who they are and what their products can do and then be consistent in their actions. Here are proven ways to build brand trust:
When companies invest time and resources into a brand, their relationship with buyers grows, benefiting both consumers and businesses.
The Edelman Report indicated that 75% of people with high brand trust would continue to buy the brand’s product, even if it is not the cheapest product. Often, price is the number one consideration when people select a product, but companies have a strong brand they must protect when loyalty exceeds price sensitivity.
Loyalty opens doors to new opportunities. Buyers with high brand trust indicated that they would only buy a product that belongs to a specific brand and are also open to exploring new products.
Approximately 60% of people with high brand trust are willing to share their personal information with the brand. Personal data helps the brand better understand the demographics and buying habits of their specific target market. Data mining is increasingly important in understanding how and why buyers purchase products, making the willingness to share this data increasingly valuable.
Buyers with high engagement levels are also more likely to pay closer attention to the brand’s promotion, advertising and marketing campaigns. Their openness can increase awareness of other products that belong to the brand and potentially increase sales.
Buyers are vocal about their dislike of products but can also be strong advocates for the brand. The Edelman Report found that 78% of people with high brand trust will repost content about the brand and share their experiences.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are highly valued, especially by strong brand advocates. Not only will they recommend the product, but they will also defend the brand against potential criticism. With the growing reliance on social media recommendations and testimonials, active users' brand advocacy is a valuable asset that attracts more users.
When buyers know, love and trust a brand, they are often willing to pay more for it. When the brand name becomes a premium product, companies can charge higher prices, resulting in increased revenue and bigger profits.
One of the best brand trust examples is Apple. Their marketing strategy is not to sell low-cost products but to sell great products and provide an exceptional customer experience. According to Steve Jobs, whose strategy for Apple is now followed by the current CEO Tim Cook, this included four pillars:
Apple’s strategy of offering exclusive products was a product differentiation strategy that resulted in die-hard Apple fans who continue to queue up to buy the next generation of products. These buyers are also terrific examples of how word of mouth, loyalty and advocacy can make a company one of the most trusted brands.
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