CANNES, FRANCE--Brand marketers must back their promises with real actions, otherwise they will be called out for "trustwashing," according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, unveiled at Cannes today.
Most consumers (53%) say brands are less than truthful about their commitment to society. Only one in three admit they trust "most" of the brands they purchase.
"Brands must do as well as say, whether the action is a contribution to support a cause, or fundamentally changing how the company operates," says Amanda Glasgow, Global Head, Edelman’s Brand practice, adding these actions "get people talking, earn coverage and drive peer conversations that brands can then amplify across other channels."
While this year's overall research continues to align with previous Trust surveys, particularly regarding the importance of a solid reputation, there are two related findings that stood out this year, says Glasgow.
First, while it is common knowledge the use of ad blockers remains on the rise, Edelman was "surprised" by how quickly this habit is catching on with consumers. Now, three in four (73%) actively avoid advertising, a ten-point increase from last year. Plus, even when they do see campaigns, 41% do not view the information contained in marketing communications as accurate and truthful.
However, 76% will pay attention to advertising and communications from brands that they trust, which is why leading with conversations ignited by trusted influencers is critical. Two in three (63%) agree they trust what influencers say about brands more than what brands say about themselves, and 58% percent of young adults surveyed said that they had bought a new product as a result of an influencer they follow.
Although most respondents (53%) say every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business, they are not seeing the societal impact they expect from brands: Too many brands use societal issues as a marketing ploy to sell more of their product, state 56% of consumers.
The "In Brands We Trust?" survey of 16,000 people was done in 8 markets: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.
I'm surprised that "brands" fared so well in this kind of study. With highly generaized questions posed in this non-specific manner you are certain to get lots of negative evaluations as advertising ---along with used car salespeople and the U.S. Congress---- is a faviorite punching bag for most respondents.