How Strong Is Consumer Trust in Your Brand? Q&A With Jebbit's Taylor Donnell

Consumer trust in brands has seen a great shift, according to Jebbit’s Taylor Donnell, vice president, content and partnerships marketing, whose company just released the results of its latest Consumer Data Trust Index  (CDTI), an online study of 2,500 25- to 64-year-olds. Some business sectors were hit hard as consumer trust declined precipitously. Others benefited, debunking previously held beliefs of what is needed to cement consumer trust.

Charlene Weisler: What are the study's major takeaways?

Taylor Donnell: Some highlights:

This CDTI edition’s rankings reflect the largest shifts in brand trust rankings to date. Google fell from #4 most trusted brand to #89, Apple fell from #17 to #43, and Netflix went from #8 to #43, indicating there’s room for brands to improve the education (and communication tactics) that they provide to their users regarding data privacy changes.

Brands must be thoughtful and strategic with the data points they seek to capture, as 30% of consumers said “asking for too much information,” again ranked as the #1 factor that results in brand mistrust.



Pandemic trends are no longer trends because they're here to stay, with 63% of consumers surveyed saying their online shopping usage has increased since the start of the pandemic, while 40% say they’re seeing more irrelevant online ads than ever before.

Forty-six percent agreed that irrelevant online ads from a business based on past purchase data decreased trust in that brand, showing that brands cannot afford to send irrelevant, repetitive or intrusive communications to shoppers.

D2C brand Bonobos jumped to #9 from #90, indicating that legacy brand awareness doesn’t guarantee a high trust index ranking. Forty-three percent trust brands in both D2C and traditional brand categories the same.

Weisler: How does this compare to your previous study?

Donnell: For one thing, we saw quite a big fall in rankings among some of the tech giants, like Google. This annually recurring study was first published in 2018. Latest indicates that consumers’ distrust in major brands continues to increase, as many businesses that once held top spots on the consumer trust index have made major shifts down the ranks.

Weisler: How do you think the privacy landscape -- both nationally and globally-- will impact businesses going forward?

Donnell: The CDTI report found that while 63% of consumers are spending more time shopping online than they were prior to the start of the pandemic, 75% of businesses had a harder time building and maintaining trust with their customers.

To gain and/or maintain consumer trust, business must be more transparent than ever about their privacy and data collection practices as well as ensure digital communications with consumers are relevant, welcome and engaging.

Weisler: How fully informed is the average consumer on Google and Apple privacy policies, in your opinion?

Donnell: Thirty percent of the 2,500 consumers in the survey stated that they were unaware that Apple and Google had made any changes to privacy policies at all. We think there is plenty of room to provide more education and educational resources that will give consumers a better grasp of how businesses, mobile-apps, browsers, etc. track their online behavior and generate revenue using their personal data.   

We also believe that while these changes are good and built to protect consumers, big tech continues to take advantage of burying communications about any changes/updates that impact users by burying them in their complex and lengthy privacy policies and / or terms & conditions pages.

Weisler: What do you think caused Google's fall in the rankings?

Donnell: On the one hand, many of the biggest players in tech continue to tread against bad PR, which may provide at least part of the reason that Google dropped 73 spots!

However, this is a bit of a head scratcher given that Google has taken momentous steps to put consumers and their privacy first, including announced privacy changes to its Android operating system as well as its plans to deprecate the third-party cookie.

Weisler: What should businesses do to maximize trust with consumers?

Donnell: Businesses should proactively communicate how they collect and use consumer data in order to build trust. When consumers willingly volunteer more information about themselves (i.e. first- or zero-party data) businesses should respond by clearly demonstrating the genuine value they can in turn provide for consumers, through helpful and welcome communications.

One key takeaway was that while legacy brands may have the advantage of brand recognition (35% of consumers polled stated that they still trust traditional brands more than online, direct-to-consumer brands), they should also take a page from many D2C brands, which seem to fare better in consumer trust, perhaps because they appear to better understand the needs of digital consumers, which enables them to focus on delivering an engaging and relevant user experience.

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