Asian shoppers trust brand owners: study

14 February 2012

SINGAPORE: A majority of consumers in Asia Pacific trust brand owners, but perceptions of companies as being innovative or listening to shopper needs are less favourable, a report has revealed.

Edelman, the PR network, polled 1,000 people in each of nine Asian markets, including Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea. Its study focused on "informed publics", or adults with high levels of education and earnings.

It found non-governmental organisations had the strongest trust scores overall on 64%, bettering the 62% recorded in similar research in 2011. The media posted 63% on this metric, an increase on 61% in the last research round.

Corporations also gained one percentage point  to reach 62%, but the returns logged by the region's governments fell by ten percentage points to 54%.

Looking at trust in business, the Indonesian panel registered 78%, down from 80% on an annual basis. China recorded 71%, up from 61% last year, and India yielded 69%, off from 70%.

Technology firms had the best ratings across Asia on 85%, beating automotive on 76% and the 69% delivered by telcos. Pharma specialists received 67%, matching food and beverage manufacturers.

Elsewhere, banks and financial services providers secured trust scores of 70% and 63% respectively, whereas comparative global totals stood at 47% and 45% in turn, a trend reflecting the relative stability of many Asian organisations in these sectors.

Some 38% of the sample agreed they had to hear information about a company three times before believing it was true, while 28% pegged this figure at four or five times.

A 32% share of interviewees trusted traditional news media as a source of information regarding a firm, standing at 28% for online, 18% for corporate sites and 17% for social media.

Furthermore, 65% of contributors viewed "technical experts" working for brand owners as reliable providers of insight, falling to 63% for academics, and 60% for a "person like yourself".

However, only 43% stated businesses offered high-quality products and services, 36% perceived them as generally innovative, 35% believed they listened to customer needs and feedback, and 33% saw them as ethical.

"The time is now for business to own the license to lead," David Brain, president/CEO of Edelman Asia Pacific, said. "In order for business to grow, we must address the areas that are important to people, which will require public engagement on societal factors."

Data sourced from Edelman; additional content by Warc staff