Do Consumers Trust Your Brand?

Consumer trust in brands has been a hot topic recently. Between massive product recalls, personal data hacks and skepticism about products’ impact on health and the environment, brands face a strenuous challenge to win back the trust of consumers.

A recent global study found that North American consumers trust only 22% of brands and believe just 3% of brands “contribute positively to our quality of life and wellbeing.”

No category has a greater challenge than food, big food in particular. Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison could not be more direct than when she told financial analysts: “We are well aware of the mounting distrust of Big Food…we understand that increasing numbers of consumers are seeking authentic, genuine food experiences and we know that they are skeptical of the ability of large, long established food companies to deliver them.”

A report by Credit Suisse found that the top 25 U.S. food and beverage companies have lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share since 2009 – more than the annual sales of Kraft Foods. Report author, Robert Moskow said, “I would think of them like melting icebergs. Every year they become a little less relevant.”

Reformulations, such as eliminating GMOs, synthetic colorings and artificial preservatives, have helped to gradually rebuild consumer trust. Still, Sullivan Higdon & Sink’s FoodThink Study finds only 31% of consumers (and only 26% of women) agree that food companies are transparent about how food is produced.

Consumers trust in brandsWhat compounds the problem for brands is that many marcom tactics – old and new – are growing less reliable in reaching consumers and overcoming the trust gap. For example, 28% of U.S. internet users say they use ad-blocking software. Notably, more than 4 in 10 Millennials use ad-blockers. Mobile browsers with ad-blocking are now used by 620 million users globally and that number will explode this summer when iOS9 supports ad-blocking extensions in Safari.

How can marketers break through to rebuild consumer trust in brands? One way is to rely on consumers’ most trusted sources of advice and recommendation. For example, health and personal care providers are powerful influencers that can tell your brand’s story. The FoodThink study finds that 54% of consumers view the medical community (healthcare providers) as a trustworthy source of food production information, second only to friends/family. By comparison, 30% consider news media and 25% consider bloggers/social media as trustworthy sources.

To learn how leading food marketers including Dannon and Nestle have built consumer trust in their brands through health & personal care influencers, contact Aha Marketing.


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