It’s here. The 2020 Edelman Brand Trust Barometer, and the insights are more fascinating than ever.
According to the survey of 22,000 respondents in 11 markets, brand trust is more important right now than reputation, performance or how well a brand treats its customers, the environment or employees.
"Trust has become a game changer for brands because it addresses people’s fears about personal safety, most notably vulnerability on health, financial stability, and privacy," said Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman.
He added: "The long-held practice of standing aside during controversies and crises is no longer an option for brands. An Edelman flash poll in early June on Brands and Racial Justice in America* found that 60 percent of people will buy or boycott based on a brand’s response to current protests. And brands are also four times more likely to gain trust than lose it when they take action in response to racial injustice."
For the top 10 findings of the 2020 survey, read below.
1. Trust is make or break
Brands face a fundamental reordering of priorities amidst a continuing global pandemic and societal outcry around centuries of systemic racism and racial injustice. But in today’s landscape, brand trust is multidimensional, living at the intersection where personal and societal issues converge, and where words meet actions.
2. Trust is now second only to price
Trust (53 percent) is second only to price (64 percent) when it comes to making purchase decisions about a brand. Globally, more people are choosing brands based on trust, with 46 percent of people saying they trust most of the brands they buy or use (a 12-point increase over last year).
3. People need brand trust more than ever before
In today’s landscape, there is a greater significance placed on Trust in brands due to both personal and societal needs. Brand trust has become more important because of people’s personal vulnerability around health, financial stability and privacy (81 percent) as well as the role brands are needed to play to impact society (74 percent).
4. Brands must solve and advocate for change
An overwhelming majority of people say solving problems, big and small, matters most for brands today. Globally, 85 percent of people want brands to "solve my problems" and 80 percent want them to solve society’s problems. Brand actions that address real issues and meet basic human needs matter more than how well they help people express themselves.
5. Be a positive force and make people feel safe
People want brands to advocate for change, both by being a positive force in shaping our culture (58 percent) and by working to make the future better than the present. And, in the face of current crises, people want brands to be more accessible and help protect us and their workforce – one in three say it’s more important now for a brand to make them feel safe, and nearly one in three say brands must make treat their employees well.
6. Brand trust is earned, not bought
Advertising doesn’t work in building trust, with nearly 7 in 10 people saying they avoid advertising. This is especially true for younger audiences, as 78 percent of 18-34 and 73 percent of 35-54 year-olds among use one more avoidance strategies or tools.
7. Earned is the battleground where trust is won – or lost
Earned is where brand trust is decided. Personal experience (59 percent), earned media (44 percent), and peer conversation (39 percent) were most effective in lead to a gain in trust. However, these conversations matter, as earned media also ranked highest (51 percent), followed by personal experience (45 percent) and peer conversation (32 percent), where brand trust could also be lost. Earned strategy is critical when brand trust is at stake.
8. Influence is built through both authority and empathy
People responded that the voices they found most influential shared a primary theme: a personal connection to an issue or topic. These voices included industry experts (60 percent), a person like yourself (59 percent), brand tech expert (49 percent), and celebrities that share my hardships (44 percent), among others.
9. Trust defines brands, building loyalty, engagement, and advocacy
People with high brand trust (75 percent) will only buy products of that brand, even when the product isn’t the cheapest, and would immediately look into buying new products from that brand. Those with high brand trust (60 percent) also feel more comfortable sharing personal information and paying attention to a brand’s communications. They (78 percent) are also likely to share or repost brand content, as well as recommend and defend the brand.
10. Trust unlocks deeper, more resilient relationships
Trust acts as a gateway from consideration to purchase to loyalty. Nearly 1 in 2 loyal customers have a brand relationship built on the strongest trust level.