The value of trust forces us to start measuring it.

Posted Mar 8, 2022
🇬🇧 English
Trust is having a breakout moment. Our Trust Barometer respondents are telling us that trust is more important to them today than it has been in the past when it comes to the brands they buy (68%). In addition, they are saying that they not only need to trust the brand, but also the company behind the brand. In fact, 40% of consumers report having given up brands they love because they did not trust the companies that owned the brand. This increasingly decisive role that trust plays in purchasing decisions is one reason why we consider it to be a new form of brand equity. Edelman is not alone in documenting and analyzing the current eminence of trust. Books are being written, conferences are being held, and consulting firms are forming practices around the topic. Yet, trust still has not found a place on most standard brand-health dashboards. Instead, when it comes to non-financial, non-sales-oriented key performance, the two most often measured constructs are sentiment and reputation (Edelman 2021). We believe this to be a detrimental oversight. Because despite being conceptually inter-related and mathematically correlated, sentiment, reputation, and trust are not interchangeable. Nor do they optimally indicate or predict the same things when it comes to 1) how a brand is perceived, 2) how well-insulated a brand is from potential marketplace disruptions, or 3) its growth potential.

As trust continues to grow in importance, garnering more and more ink and attention, it is becoming ever more conspicuous in its absence as a standard metric. In this paper, we will identify and describe the unique contribution that trust makes to assessing company and brand health and present an argument for why tracking trust should be a C-suite imperative.

Trust is a set of beliefs regarding a company, held by an individual. It is an enduring personal orientation towards a company that is manifest in a willingness to take a meaningful risk on that company, whether it be giving it your hard-earned money, entrusting it with the success of an important event, or even counting on it to keep you safe (Lewis & Weigert, 1985). It also underlies the willingness to give a brand the benefit of the doubt. Trust grows, or erodes, only within the context of a personal relationship between an individual and a brand. This personal relationship does not have to entail current usage of the brand, and it can be lived vicariously through seeing, first-hand, the experiences a friend or family member is having with a company. It is the first-hand aspect of the experience that is important here. If the evidence upon which you are basing your sense of a company moves from firsthand to the realm of hear-say, you cross the boundary dividing trust from reputation. From a brand-health monitoring perspective, trust is important because it confers upon a brand a license to operate, a license to lead – both in terms of innovation (Bachmann & Zaheer, 2013) and regulation – and a license to fail. This last license is a unique form of disruption insurance and brand equity that only accrues to a brand via trust. These licenses are reflected in data showing that trusted brands have several advantages over distrusted brands.

The value of a trusted brand in numbers : 

  • Are seven times more likely to command a premium price 
  • Garner a 14% greater purchasing propensity 
  • Benefit from six times the consumer loyalty
  • Are eight times more resilient
  • Are seven times more likely to get consumers to share their personal data with them
  • Have stock that outperforms its sector by up to 11% in times of crisis

Source: Measuring Trust: A Prerequisite to Unlocking Growth (Edelman 2021)

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