Trust – giving brands a secret edge


Alexandre Faure

Head of Digital, Elan Edelman

People’s trust in the institutions that traditionally held authority has been shaken. Businesses therefore have to step up. The Edelman 2019 Trust Barometer shows that the landscape has changed over the past decade.

People have lost trust in governments (according to 47% of participants), traditional media (48%) and, more recently, social media (40%). People now trust their employers as much as NGOs (57% and 56%, respectively). This widespread scepticism and the persistent feeling that the system has stopped working (according to roughly 50% of the population) are prompting people to take control. This is happening around the world and in a variety of ways. For example, in France, we have witnessed protests and widespread unrest, and in India there has been the Women’s Wall and employees demonstrating against accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace.

People, in other words, are expecting businesses and their leaders to bring about change: 73% of participants believe that companies can take measures to boost profitability while also improving socioeconomic conditions in the regions in which they are based. Furthermore, 76% of participants felt their CEO should initiate change instead of waiting for the government to impose it (especially regarding equal pay for equal work, discrimination, sustainability and training).

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This has an immediate impact on business. Nearly two thirds of people in France (65%) choose to buy or boycott brands based on their stands on such issues. This trend is on the rise (up 15 points year on year) and stretches across every age group and socio-professional category. Brands have not yet fully understood the extent of the challenge they face. A brand’s position on societal issues has as much bearing on people’s purchasing decisions as promotions or what the product actually has to offer. Moreover, 58% of French consumers feel that brands spend too much time trying to catch their eye with poorly calibrated marketing campaigns instead of attracting interest in a more deserved way by showing they are serious about their commitments and values.

Money can’t buy appeal. It’s something you have to earn. The time has come for brands to take practical measures and start thinking about new kinds of performance indicators. That’s what the Net Trust Score, which will come out this year, is all about.

Isaura de Albuquerque-Rodrigues

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