The Edelman Trust Barometer is the firm’s 11th annual trust and credibility survey that sampled 5,705 informed publics in two age groups (25-34 and 35-64) in 23 countries.
Among the key findings, trust in media showed a seven point jump to 61 per cent compared to 44 per cent in Europe and a mere 27 per cent in the US, fuelled primarily by double digit increases in China, Indonesia and Japan. Meanwhile, trust in business to do what is right is at 61 per cent in the region compared to 46 per cent in the US, and trust in the government is the highest in Asia-Pacific (64 per cent) when matched against other regions (52 per cent).
“Trust is now an essential line of business, and Asia-Pacific is clearly ahead of the game globally,” explained David Brain, president and CEO of Edelman Asia-Pacific. Brain highlighted that the pattern of trust is different in each country, signifying how engagement and communication strategies need to be tailored to local conditions and needs.
In particular, trust in NGOs has continued to rise in the region, with Australia and South Korea more trusting of NGOs than business. A key reason behind this is that the focus of NGOs in addressing issues related to environment, education, healthcare, and water in the region are highly regarded by the public to address the real needs of society, according to Brain.
The study also shows that while the majority of respondents believe that the social responsibility of a business is to increase profits, they are expected even more to partner with NGOs, governments or both to solve crises. Particularly in China (89 per cent), Indonesia (85 per cent), Australia (79 per cent), Singapore (78 per cent) and India (74 per cent), there is a belief that companies need to create shareholder value in a way that aligns with society’s interest.
Alan VanderMolen, CEO and president of Edelman’s global practices and diversified insights business, stresses that businesses must align profit and purpose for the benefit of civil society. “Companies need to deliver the full circle: high quality products, a fair price, transparent business operations, profit and civil interests, in order to attain and maintain the trust of their stakeholders.”
Overall, authority figures were seen as the most credible spokespeople with most believing in an expert (68 per cent), a technical expert within a firm (61 per cent) or a CEO (58 per cent).
Another major finding is that search engines are the first and primary source people look to for news about a company, while online news sources ranks as their second stop. Google emerged as the top source of information in four of the seven Asia-Pacific study markets, while traditional channels such as television, newspapers, radio and business magazines, as well as online search engines were deemed the most trusted sources of information in the region.
However, it was revealed that respondents appeared to be less trusting of social media channels such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.