SYDNEY: Paypal, the online payments system, believes that consumer trust allied to brand ethics is crucial to emotional engagement.

According to Elaine Herlihy, marketing director at PayPal Australia, trust is “the foundation of making an emotional connection with a consumer”.

And, addressing an event organised by Mumbrella, she maintained that, despite what some firms might think, there is almost always some form of emotional response to a product or service.

“Payments are emotional because there is a risk and reward,” she noted. “Consumers are driven by safety and convenience. But there is always risk, too.”

When buying clothing online, for example, as well as the everyday worry about whether it will fit, there may also be a nagging anxiety about whether it will even be delivered as there is the possibility of fraud.

“Go through the consumer journey and focus on where fear plays a part,” she advised. “It’s a powerful emotion. We’re twice as likely to refuse to pay than take the reward.”

PayPal’s success has been based in part on its removal of one of the early obstacles to buying online, when consumers were reluctant to divulge their credit card details to unknown sellers.

In addition to building trust by taking away the fear factor, “You are more trusted if you take a stand for what you believe in,” Herlihy added.

“Today, people associate brand values with their own and nobody therefore wants to be friends with someone who is only in it for themselves.”

Financial services brands face particular issues around trust, as the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis continue to reverberate and as new, technology-driven start-ups reshape the industry – to the point where a significant proportion of younger consumers believe they won’t need a bank in the future.

In a recent Admap article, Tony Mattson, managing partner for strategy at Forward Media, puts forward several ways to tackle this “trust deficit”.

Communications planning can help as a discipline that places people front and centre in its design, he advises.

“And the sector can then nurture people's trust by pulling on four key levers: start from the inside out, create meaningful relationships, make things people want and be seen in the right places.”

Data sourced from Mumbrella, Admap; additional content by WARC staff