LONDON: Being perceived as an innovator is the most important marketing action for creating trust in an FMCG brand, according to analysis of the purchasing behaviour of 12,000 European consumers.

Europanel, a global partnership between research firms GfK and Kantar Worldpanel, conducted a major study in early 2015 into the three biggest brands in 30 FMCG categories across nine European countries.

It evaluated responses from 12,000 consumers and linked them with the buying behaviour of 150,000 households to establish the connections between trust and brand success.

The findings are outlined in the current issue of Market Leader, in which Europanel consultant Dr Oliver Koll explains that innovation by a brand is more strongly related to trust than a presence on social media or advertising perception.

"Perceived promotional activity, on the other hand, has no impact on trust and actual levels of promotion are related negatively to trust," he writes.

"It seems – and this is in line with the desk research – that brands relying too much on price discounting to move their product may undermine the credibility of their offering," Koll added.

Another effective marketing lever for brands seeking to build more trust is to develop a reputation for being "current" or "modern" because this perception is more important than having a long heritage or being seen as a local icon.

Developing a reputation for being a fun or exciting brand does not necessarily link to high trust levels in a brand, the research found, but offering consistent high quality is essential to be perceived as prestigious.

The overall importance of trust is underscored in other survey findings that revealed one-in-three consumers would recommend brands from the most highly trusted tier of brands (the study identified three tiers of trusted brands).

In addition, one-in-six European consumers said they would be prepared to pay a higher price for these top tier brands, or more than twice the level of tier three.

In a final piece of advice for brands, Koll said: "High trust creates a virtuous circle: it helps gain more buyers, which in turn links to higher levels of trust.

"While the study shows that some brands may start from a more difficult position (because of their category, buyer base or country average), any brand can gain trust – but it needs to defend this position continuously."

Data sourced from Market Leader; additional content by Warc staff