Brand trust is measured in several ways, and this year, outdoor gear retailer Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) took top honors for the second year in an index of the most trusted brands in the country.
The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria recently published its annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI). The index is aimed at raising the awareness of the role that trust plays in consumer purchasing decisions.
“Trust plays a vital role in our community, economy and collective mindset as Canadians,” says Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “We have witnessed several breakdowns in trust over the past year, which we see reflected in our results. It is clear that trust can erode very rapidly but it takes a long time to build or to recover from missteps.”
The top 10 on the 2017 index (the 2016 rank is in parentheses):
1. MEC (1)
2. Canadian Automobile Association (a newcomer)
3. Costco Wholesale (3)
4. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (8)
5. IKEA (22)
6. Chapters/Indigo (59)
7. President’s Choice (1)
8. Interac (11)
9. Cirque du Soleil (another newcomer)
10. WestJet (54)
Among the companies that have dropped on the index are:
- Tim Hortons, which ranked No. 1 in 2015, came in at 27 on this index after dropping to 47 in 2016.
- President’s Choice, which fell to 7 from 1.
- Columbian Sportswear slipped to 28 from 9.
- DAVIDsTea fell to 32 from 7.
- Canon fell to 52 from 6.
- Band-Aid dropped to 54 from 9.
The GBTI has found that consumers trust brands on two different levels:
1. Functional trust comes from traditional metrics such as quality, reliability and consistency.
2. Emotional trust differentiates brands and rests on such metrics as workplace practices, environmental policies and community responsibility.
Researchers found that brand trust increases with age and decreases as the income of a consumer increases. They also found that female consumers are more trusting than their male counterparts, although they rank the top brands similarly.
More Details about the Index
The GBTI uses a statistically representative sample of 3,125 consumers to score 249 Canadian companies and brands against 40 attributes. It measures five dimensions of trust that influence whether consumers recommend a brand to their networks:
1. Brand trust overall. Is the brand trustworthy and act with integrity?
2. Values-based trust. How do consumers perceive the brand’s social responsibility? (Researchers found this is becoming a more important driver of overall brand trust.)
3. Functional trust. How well do the brand’s products perform or function?
4. Relationship trust. How does the brand interact with its customers?
5. Word of mouth. Would consumers recommend the brand to others?
Here are a couple more insights you may want to apply to your business:
- Consumers recommend brands that they perceive to be honest, consistent and reliable.
- Older consumers tend to trust the top brands more than younger consumers do.
Here are five ways that can help your brand build trust with its customers? Let consumers:
1. Believe they can trust you. Consider offering a guarantee on your product. Few things speak louder than the confidence you show when you offer to refund a customer’s money if the product doesn’t measure up to what is expected. Even if your product is immediately consumed after purchase, there may be some way to create a guarantee to demonstrate your confidence in the product.
2. Understand they can rely on you. Being able to rely on the same supplier saves customers time and effort. Let your customers know that you’ll be there when they need you. You can do this by being visible when you land a new customer. Demonstrate your success by issuing press releases (if appropriate in your business) to tell customers what you’re doing. You may find including a story of a recent success in a conversation will prompt even more business.
3. Know you value their business. While a simple “thank you” can help convey your appreciation, going an extra step can strengthen the relationship. A gift, or at least a card during the holiday season or on a birthday, can show that you remembered a customer and may stimulate a “thanks for the gift” conversation.
4. Feel that you care. If your business sells to other businesses, try to establish a means to offer some insights into their operations. If you sell to others in that industry, share some ideas you have gained. Be careful not to divulge secrets, but telling a customer about someone else’s success may give them ideas for improving their businesses.
5. Enjoy their relationship with you. Everyone wants to be happy and few things create happiness like pleasant conversations. Make it a point to meet or call customers on a regular basis without making a sales pitch. If appropriate, a simple contact to your best customers on their birthdays may create more goodwill than almost anything else.
You can find the full list of most trusted brands here.