Brand trust is the anchor point and the basis for any purchase decision – now in the current crisis more than ever. Companies and marketers would do well to refocus on customer trust and strengthen it with targeted measures. We take a look at the whys and hows of building a trustworthy brand.
Trust is a decisive factor in corporate success. It is not without reason that brands such as Miele, dm or Edeka, which in surveys German customers regularly say they trust the most, are also among the companies with the highest turnover in their respective industries. The benefits are clear: Customers who trust a brand worry less about the risk of making a bad purchase - and are therefore more willing to spend more money and try out new products and services. Companies not only increase their sales, they are also more likely to launch new innovations successfully. An advantage that Leibniz, for example, has been exploiting for years. Often represented in the Top 10 brands with the most customer confidence, the cookie manufacturer regularly launches new and creative updates such as a ginger cookie-chocolate combination and "sloth edition".
Trust improves marketing campaigns, because customers take more notice of the brands they trust and recommend them to friends and family. Trust also increases the number of loyal customers - the latest "Searching for Trust" study by the Search-Experience Cloud Platform Yext found that 74 percent of those surveyed would buy products from trusted brands again.
Don't gamble trust away recklessly
This study shows that the same is true in reverse - a lack of trust can also lead to large losses in sales. The study found that 72 percent of those surveyed would refrain from buying products from brands they do not consider trustworthy. In general, customers trust that the product they buy ultimately delivers the performance and quality that the company has promised them. A common marketing mistake that quickly leads to disappointment here is therefore exaggerated promises or incorrect information. This not only applies to advertising campaigns, but also to websites and online store entries, which should always provide customers with up-to-date and correct product details. Sounds obvious? In the "Searching for Trust" study, more than a third of the people surveyed said that incorrect or outdated information on the web had led to them making bad purchases.
Often brands that have already built up a high level of customer trust can be tempted to exploit this trust with deliberate lies or failures in quality. VW, for example, was one of the most trusted car brands before it manipulated exhaust measurements in diesel cars. The care brand Nivea, normally located in the Top 10 of most trusted brands, was to the shock of many customers classified recently by Öko-Test as “unsatisfactory“.
Address customer fears
No wonder then that customers are becoming increasingly cautious. It is therefore important to eliminate all potential customer fears from the outset. To find out what these fears are, it is helpful to take a look at customer reviews of your products and conduct surveys within the target group - so as to address customer concerns proactively. Much will be gained if the company has addressed the painpoints directly and shows the customer that they are taking their concerns seriously, a basic prerequisite for trust. Even better are concrete measures and solutions that address the customer's fears in a practical way. A legendary example of this was Mercedes' reaction to the elk test breakdown at the market launch of the A-class. After a test driver for a Swedish car magazine caused the new model to tip over, Mercedes stopped delivery and equipped the A-Class with the newly developed Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as standard. Trust was regained and the A-Class was a great success.
Look for external brand trust indicators
Proactive and empathic communication with customers is a first step towards building brand trust. However, people need more and frequently look for validation and additional security in the form of external indicators, which, as neutral sources, can provide valuable assistance for the customer when they are making a purchase decision. Even though companies cannot or should not influence sources such as customer ratings - except through the quality of their own products - there are still a number of possibilities to make them useful for marketing purposes.
For example, advertising campaigns with well-known testimonials can have a positive influence on brand trust. It also helps to refer to figures that can act as social proof: "Already xy customers use and trust our product“. It is also possible to have your product reviewed by external testing agencies which could lead to a trust seal. The external and neutral issuers of these seals already enjoy great trust among customers and - if the evaluation is positive – this trust transfers to the company.
Respond to current circumstances and needs
All of these steps create good conditions for building trustworthy customer relationships - even in increasingly uncertain times such as the Corona pandemic. The study: "Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 Special Report: Brand Trust and the Corona Virus Pandemic" reports that customers currently expect brands to get involved in the fight against Covid-19, to behave in a morally exemplary manner and to protect employees and suppliers both financially and from a health perspective.
Many companies are reassessing their communication channels at present. Since Germans want to rely on secure information in times like these, traditional media is becoming more important. For example, 39 percent of those surveyed stated that they would like to receive corona communication from media via TV, radio or newspapers. The type and manner of communication is also particularly important. For example, 72 percent of German consumers want brands to publicly express their empathy and support for Corona sufferers. This is where the basic requirements for a trusting relationship with customers become clearer than ever: Empathy, understanding and commitment.