Institutional Trust Is Declining Around The World

Trust in institutions such as the media, government and business leaders continues to decline all over the world. 

According to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, faith in the media is at an all-time low in 17 countries out of 28 surveyed, while trust in government dropped in 14 markets across the world, and is the least-trusted institution in half of all countries evaluated. Trust in business leaders is also imperiled, dropping in every market surveyed. 

Indeed, more than half (53%) of the global respondents felt the system was working against them, offering little help for the future. (Only 15% believed it was working for them; the remainder felt uncertain.) Although trust was higher among informed members of the public, more than half of them said the system was failing.

“We see a growing and continuing disparity in trust levels between the mass population and the informed public, with the mass substantially less trusting than those with higher levels of income and education,” Kathy Beiser, global chair of Edelman's corporate practice, tells Marketing Daily. “This crisis in trust has profound implications for institutions and their leaders—the mass population simply doesn’t believe the system works for them anymore.”



The decline in institutional faith suggests the organizations need to adopt a “new operating model” that moves beyond the traditional top-down, siloed structure to one that suggests shared responsibility in creating solutions, Beiser says. “For business, it requires a long-term mindset that looks beyond quarterly numbers,” she says. 

For marketers, the implications mean a continued need to work on consumer engagement, rather than top-down marketing. According to the research, consumers find a company’s social media channel more believable than its advertising. “With employees now the most credible spokesperson for an organization on any topic, business needs to empower and leverage these individuals to reach their stakeholders, a trend that has profound implications for how marketers approach consumer engagement,” Beiser says. 

They also need to spend time explaining the thinking behind innovations and take steps to ensure people don’t get or feel left behind by them. 

“Marketers have done an excellent job telling people about the benefits of their innovations, but we believe they have to also address the downsides,” Beiser says. “If we remove cashiers from stores and drivers from cars, for example, what kind of commitment is business going to make with regards to the jobs that are lost as a result? Business must partner with government and its peers to help find solutions to these issues; otherwise, we believe that trust—and the corresponding stability of our societies — will continue to diminish.”

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