2020 has been a year of the two ‘Ps’ - protests and the pandemic. Seismic cultural forces and events continue to have profound effect on our society and consumers and brands can no longer sit at the wayside. They face growing pressure to do and say more to earn the trust of their consumers.
Edelman’s Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 sheds light on the forces that are driving consumer trust in APAC. The annual report surveyed over 20,000 respondents globally, including four markets in APAC: China, Japan, South Korea and India.
Put simply, brands need to make a difference; 57% of consumers deem it very important for brands to be a positive force in shaping culture, influencing acceptable behaviours and attitudes, and elevating those who are inspirational to others. Brands today can’t just talk—they must act on the issues that matter to their consumers.
In APAC, trust dictates purchasing behaviours
Across the four markets surveyed, trust is the number one factor for consumers deciding whether to buy a new brand (51%). Internationally, trust comes second to price and affordability. And when it comes to repeat purchasing, trust ranks as number one, on par with price and affordability (49%) in APAC. Whereas globally, price still ranks higher.
Consumer attitudes towards trust have changed this year, 71% of respondents indicated that trusting a brand is more important today than in the past. By market, 89% in India, 73% in South Korea, 69% in China and 51% in Japan agree that trust has increased in importance.
The way that brands respond to the pandemic is having a direct impact on purchasing decisions. APAC respondents appear to be more willing than their global counterparts to stand by their beliefs with their purchasing power. More than half (58%) have recently started using a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to the virus outbreak; an increase of 4 points between April and June 2020.
Moreover, trust has a powerful ripple effect. 54% say they have convinced other people to stop using a brand that they felt was not acting appropriately in response to the pandemic; a 3-point increase between April and June 2020.
Brands are getting this right in the region
Campaign Asia began tracking brand-side responses to the pandemic when it first hit. The roster of APAC brand-led initiatives for good is impressive – businesses quickly stepped up to protect employees, develop essential products and support supply chains, and provide key services. Lalamove’s drive to facilitate the delivery of essentials, Grab’s Connected by Good campaign and PepsiCo India’s pledge to hand out 10 million meals across the country are just some of the standout brand-led purpose initiatives to have emerged from the crisis.
Edelman Trust Management goes one step further in measuring consumer response to such initiatives. The framework measures trust across five key dimensions (purpose, self, ability, dependability and integrity) to help interpret brand trust, capital and diagnose strength and weaknesses. It measures the brand’s commitment and impact on societal and environmental issues, alongside considerations such as whether a brand is perceived as competent, dependable and honest. For the first time brands can see the impact of their actions on consumer trust.
In a pilot study of 50 large household names across China, India and Japan, Edelman found that 68% of respondents agreed that brands are helping them through the uncertainty of today, whether that be job, economy or health-related. On an individual level, the brands that are doing well at addressing the uncertainty of today are between 2.5x (in China) and 5X (in Japan) more trusted. This shows that brand reactions earn trust; and business results in turn.
For brands in Asia, trust is make-or-break
With changing expectations around businesses and brands and a world upended by Covid-19, trust is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must.
We’ve seen that there are new demands on brands to solve, not just sell. Consumers want action. More than ever, they’re seen as protectors and dependable providers. If brands deliver on the promise of advocacy and action, then they’ll be rewarded with deeper, more resilient relationships with the consumer.
Brands that are tied into strong values and translate these to their consumers will be the ones who win. Brand trust is no longer a marketing strategy, it’s the core part of business strategy.