How much we trust in a brand is right up there with price in influencing purchase decisions, according to new research, which suggests that only one third of consumers trust most of the brands they use or buy.

A 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, In Brands We Trust? was based on a survey of 16,000 people across eight countries.

This revealed that brand trust is a deal breaker or deciding factor for 81% of consumers when they consider a purchase. That places trust only after the core considerations of quality (85%), convenience (84%), value (84%) and ingredients (82%).

The trust factor influencing purchases appeared consistently across geographies, age groups, gender and income levels.

Different reasons for the growing importance of trust were cited by consumers: some had growing concern about product experience (62%), especially in an age of fast-paced innovation and reliance on automation.

Other reasons were customer experience (55%), which covers the collection of personal data, and the tracking and targeting of consumers. Respondents also said trust mattered to them because they were concerned about brands’ impact on society (69%), including the expectation that brands would help express consumers’ values.

“Trust has always played an important role in brand purchase,” Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman, pointed out.

“But consumers now have much larger expectations of brands, and their trust is predicated on how well a brand can pass through the three gates of trust – product, customer experience and impact on society.”

Consumers who trust a brand said they are more than twice as likely to buy its new products – 53% compared to 25% for other brands. They’re also more than twice as likely to stay loyal to a brand they trust, and similarly twice as likely to be advocates for one.

But, despite its importance to consumers, brands are largely failing the trust test. More Over half those surveyed (53%) said they believed brands had a duty to become involved with at least one social issue not directly connected to their business. And yet only 21% said they were aware of brands they use “keeping the interests of society in mind”.

And those brands that do act need to be subtle about how they do so. Over half of consumers (56%) said too many brands used societal issues merely as a cynical marketing tool – or ‘trustwashing’.

“Talking about an issue in an ad isn’t enough,” said Amanda Glasgow, global chair of Brand at Edelman. “Brands need to go further to impact real change. This could be anything from advocacy to financial support to internal reforms.”

Sourced from Edelman; additional content by WARC staff