In today’s querulous, noisy world, ‘do we have enough trust with customers?’ is a fundamental question for brands. Whether it’s the recently withdrawn McDonald’s ad or the ridiculed Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, an ill-judged decision by a brand can shrivel customer trust overnight. And trust is directly linked to market share.
Our latest research measures customer trust over the past 12 months in some leading fmcg brands, to predict quarterly market share growth. We measure it using Mettle’s ABC model: Ability trust (does the brand work for me?), Beliefs trust (do I care about the brand?) and Consistency trust (does it work for me over time?). Each trust type is made up of individual topics of conversation and these establish what builds, or damages, customer trust.
Our findings suggest customers currently find Dove and Pampers the most trustworthy brands. These have a net trust score over 60%, with engaged customers who adopt new products and technologies early.
Medium-trust brands with scores between 30% and 60%, like Gillette, L’Oréal, Kellogg’s and Nescafé, have a longer purchase cycle time and have to earn enough trust for customers to engage before they will proceed to purchase. These brands have an imbalance between Ability, Beliefs and Consistency trust.
Lower-trust brands with scores under 30% like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Colgate and Red Bull have the longest purchase cycle time, a lower sales conversion rate, and gain no competitive advantage from their customer experience. These brands tend to have poor Beliefs trust, highlighting a problem in customers sharing empathy with the brand.
So what should brands do to build trust? Dove, for example, has gained its large market share by establishing a brand trust profile that reflects what customers find important. In terms of the product, Dove has scored highly on two key trust drivers - smell and range, which both contribute to Ability trust. And on the brand positioning, the continued positive impact of Dove’s long-running Body Confidence campaign offsets the vocal criticism of its animal testing position.
There are three lessons here for brands. Ability trust is the most important for fmcg customers. A few brands built trust quickly and efficiently through product giveaways, while most have a core set of advocates who produce content around enjoyment and product efficiency.
Beliefs trust is the second most important set of trust drivers. Here many brands lost trust through conversations around brand boycotts and dangerous/unhealthy ingredients. These conversations need to be addressed quickly and effectively as they undermine a brand’s licence to operate, which in turn negatively affects sales.
Consistency trust is, unsurprisingly, the least important set of trust drivers for fmcg. Despite this, an early indicator of future risk is the newly emerging ‘poor customer service’ conversation, which has spread from the retail sector. Brands here need to start planning how to build customer trust through superior customer service - something they can learn from the retail brands’ trust strategies.
Dr Andrew Tucker is the founder and CEO of Mettle