Consumer Trust Is Not What You Think It Is These Days

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What is the number one reason that a customer is loyal to a brand?

Some might think that it’s all about price. If a customer can save a few dollars, they will jump that brand ship without thinking twice. Candidly, if you asked me what the number one reason might be for a customer’s loyalty, I’d grapple between price and value. What would you say? This morning, eMarketer published the news item, Money Can’t Buy Me Love: US Consumers Loyal to Brands They Trust. At first, I did a double take. How could a consumer say “trust” over “price” or “value”? A brand can’t really earn trust until they have demonstrated fair pricing and good value, right? It all felt a little backwards. The piece went on to say…

“Consumers are loyal to brands that respect their privacy, and that demonstrate their trustworthiness by safeguarding customers’ personal information… Consumers are also loyal to brands that respect their time. Roughly eight in 10 respondents said it’s important that brands are there for them when needed, but otherwise want to be left alone and contacted only minimally.”

Wait what?

According to this article (and a report conducted by Accenture) the number one factor that influences US Internet users’ loyalty to brand is: “Being trustworthy with regard to safeguarding and respecting of my personal information.” This answer scored 85%. To put this into perspective endorsements from influencers was the lowest at 23%, support and acting upon causes was 37%, personalization was 41% and gifts of thanks and acknowledgment was 69%. Price and value were not even a part of this list.

This means: A brand’s online experience should not be the same as their offline experience? 

How a brand builds trust (as we have traditionally defined it) may either be shifting or it’s completely different when it comes to the online world. Perhaps price is not as important online as knowing that the brand is protecting your data. Would you buy from Amazon if the price was more expensive than another online retailer that you had never heard of? This is not as outlandish as it might seem, at first blush. Think about all of the major brands that have been hacked over the past few years. I’m sure that a few of them immediately come to mind. Has that eroded your trust in them? For many, this is a truism. For many, shopping online is not the same as walking into a store. The results of this report prove that a customer online looks nothing like the customer that just walked into our stores.

Imagine if a corporation had brand values that looked like this:

  • We promise to protect your personal data at all costs.
  • We promise to not spam the hell out of you, even though you gave us explicit permission to stay connected.
  • We promise to be better to you, the longer that you stay with us.
  • We promise to always give you, our current customers, the better prices.
  • We promise to make each experience you have with us more personalized and relevant to your needs.
  • We promise to always keep you on the cutting edge with the most up-to-date products in the industry.
  • We promise to engage with you to design more relevant experiences for you.
  • We promise to leave you alone most of the time.

Some do this. Most do not.

Do brands truly understand the nuanced shifts in customer expectations, and can these brands become more and more digital-first by nature? What’s more relevant is to look at the language and engagement that consumers expect in these digital channels (see the article above) verses their expectations when they deal with you in your “protein forms” (as I like to call it). A truly digital-first brand – it turns out – is really about the data. Not the data that you capture. Not the data of what your customer’s do on your site. It’s about the customer’s data. Proove to the customer that brand loyalty is really about how much care you demonstrate in protecting their data – and using their information to create a more personalized experience (without spamming them at every corner to hit your sales numbers) – and you may have just unlocked a whole new way to wins friends and influence business outcomes.

Winning customer’s trust feels like something very different these days. Would you agree?