In today’s day and age, the concept of trust seems more elusive than ever. Brands realize that, too, and are stepping up to help address it.
“Globally, there is a crisis of trust in many of our most important institutions,” said Mark Byrne, chief product officer at iProspect, a digital performance marketing agency. “There has never been a more important time for brands to play a leading role in restoring trust. The brands that succeed here will go a long way to forging a path to sustainable business growth.”
Indeed, a recent iProspect global survey of over 300 clients, posits that trust is not simply an issue for brands in the digital economy but the issue. “2019 Future Focus: Searching for Trust” found that 88% of marketers surveyed are prioritising initiatives that bolster consumer trust above all else, with 76% stating that trust is critical to consumers buying their brand.
The Trust Equation
To build trust, brands must establish credibility, relevance, and reliability at every touch point, according to iProspect. Consistency and convenience are also paramount.
“For credibility, it’s about having a clear brand purpose and leveraging digital content, search, and social as a way to communicate that purpose in an authentic way,” Byrne told CMO.com.
Relevance means understanding the consumer journey, the moments that matter within it, “and then using the right data signals to be able to reach [consumers] in a highly relevant and personalised way,” he said. “Lastly, for reliability, it’s about creating consistent and convenient brand experiences that, at the least, meet and, where possible, exceed consumer expectations.”
How Ethical Brands Excel
Byrne pointed to outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, with its core focus on environmental impact and social responsibility, as a great example of a brand with a clear purpose and transparency that inspires trust.
“Like a lot of brands, it’s aspirational. But unlike most, everything they do is centred around [purpose],” he said. “It’s how they market their clothes–even providing free services to reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle–and they donate 1% of annual sales to environmental causes. From a digital perspective, I love that they’ve created a content hub where they speak openly about their supply chain and how they’re investing in the local community and environment for a more sustainable future.”
Nick Savaidis, founder of Australian ethical fashion brand Etiko, agreed about consumers’ demands for clarity and transparency about ethical issues.
“People feel they can trust a certification scheme or brand that has a long history of doing the right thing. They want to be able to easily identify a logo that they can trust, which gives them the confidence to buy,” said Savaidis, whose company has consistently received A+ scores in Baptist World Aid Australia’s 2019 “Ethical Fashion Guide” and has even won a human rights award for its work.
In addition, Etiko was the first fashion company in the Southern Hemisphere to become “Fair Trade Certified.” Like Patagonia, it focuses on supply-chain transparency and ethical initiatives. Etiko is on track to being carbon-neutral throughout its supply chain by 2020, and it recently announced a take-back program that allows customers to return their sneakers and flip-flops at the end of their life spans for recycling.
Influencers You Can Trust
Social media influencers also can have great sway when it comes to winning consumer trust, provided they resonate authentically with a brand’s customer base.
“Influencers who are passionate about sustainability, animal rights, and social justice are important–they can give someone the confidence to buy into your brand,” Savaidis said.
For example, Mighty Good Undies, which also received an A+ rating in the “Ethical Fashion Guide,” produces a portrait series each year for Fashion Revolution Week in which activists and influencers strip down to their underwear and discuss how they create change.
“We develop a video series and share this across all our channels. The association with these great humans creates trust,” said Might Good Undies co-founder Elena Antoniou of the campaign. “The day that we launched our first ‘Bare for Good’ campaign, we saw an increase in users by 217.21% compared to the same date the year before. Revenue jumped over 64% in the month compared to the same month the year before, and our average order went up by 45.4%.”
This year’s campaign will feature novelist and model Tara Moss, an activist for women and children’s rights, she added.
Trust In A Connected World
Identification, integrity, and inclusion are also key to forming trust, Kantar TNS’s latest “Connected Life” study shows. That means creating a brand that consumers identify with, proving your integrity, and giving customers control.
Control over personal data, in particular, is an issue brands can no longer afford to ignore. Globally, 40% of consumers are concerned about how much brands know about them from their personal data, with Australians being notably less trusting (56%), the study found.
“Brands need to inculcate trust-building into every touch point,” said Jarrod Payne, brand strategy head at Kantar Millward Brown Australia. “For personal data … this is about aligning values. People are trusting the masses of health data being collected by Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Garmin because these services share the vision of health or fitness users want.”
Payne recommended brands take a “moments-based approach,” tailoring user experiences at each touch point by considering what consumers are feeling in that moment and providing what’s most useful to them, rather than what will make a sale.
“Show consumers that you understand them and have their best interests at heart,” he told CMO.com. “If you can, give them control. People hate not having control, so the more control you give, the more they will trust you.”