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How To Build Brand Trust When Mistrust Is Everywhere

 

Do consumers  trust your brand? If the answer is yes, give yourself a big pat on the back, because Americans aren’t a very trusting bunch.

 

According to Pew Research Center, which recently published results from a study it conducted in Spring, 2016, of how Americans perceive several leading institutions, only 4% of respondents said they had “a great deal” of trust in business leaders. Of course, “business leaders” doesn’t equate with business as a whole, or with trust in the products and services businesses create and market. But it is an indicator that commerce doesn’t automatically generate votes of confidence, and that trust in the commercial sphere has to be won and perpetually fortified.

 

If it’s any comfort, business leaders eked out a trust advantage over elected officials, in whom only 3% of Pew’s respondents placed “a great deal” of trust. Just 5% of respondents placed high trust in the news media, while religious leaders and K-12 school principals and superintendents were tied at 13%. The military commanded “a great deal” of trust from 33% of those surveyed, and scientists scored highest marks on the trust-meter from 21% of panelists who responded to the survey. For a chart showing Pew’s key finding about trust in institutions, click here

 

One thing that business leaders, elected officials and members of the news media have in common is that virtually nobody has direct, unmediated, human-to-human experiences with them — unless people think of their own bosses instead of Fortune 500 CEOs when asked about “business leaders.”

 

But people experience brands and products intimately, so it’s much more feasible for marketers to forge bonds of trust with them. Even consumers who haven’t tried a product themselves may well have heard opinions from friends and acquaintances they consider trustworthy. In any case, staying on top of how consumers perceive brands is a perpetual necessity and a perpetual challenge.

 

To that end, using the right mobile methodology is crucial. There’s no question people trust their smartphones – 77% of Americans owned one when Pew last checked about a year ago, and as far back as 2014, 46% of Pew’s respondents reported that they couldn’t live without their phones.

 

The most important takeaway is no longer that consumer studies, including ones on brand health and product satisfaction, should be mobile because the public is virtually all-in on mobile, virtually all of the time. By now, that’s simply a given. The more nuanced and important conversation for brand researchers is which mobile methodology to choose – mobile web or mobile app. Respondents to mobile web surveys access them online, the same as traditional online surveys designed to be taken on PCs. Surveys fielded to a mobile app are taken offline, by a proprietary panel of users who show higher levels of engagement, having already taken the trouble to download and use the app.

 

One thing to remember about trust is that when it’s betrayed, it’s extremely hard to win back. In mobile research the trust stakes are high, because the public that loves its phones also has high expectations of them. Failure to meet those expectations can feel more like a betrayal than a mere disappointment. And then you’ve got one more potential research participant who’s tuned out in disgust and joined the multitudes who won’t participate in market research. To learn more about what distinguishes trustworthiness from shoddiness in mobile methodology, check out this recent blog post by clicking here. And for a productive conversation about how mobile-app research can meet your projects’ specific needs, just click here.