MEC rises to the top of the fifth annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index, while popular social media platforms trail at the bottom
May 01, 2019, Victoria, BC: The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria has unveiled the fifth annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index, with key trends suggesting that consumers are more willing to place a brand in positive light when criticism is responded to with honest and authentic remedies.
The insight is evidenced by MEC leading this year’s ranking, despite consumer criticism over the lack of diversity in their advertisements; their adept response to concerns ensuring they maintained consumer trust.
MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-Op) came out on top as the most trusted brand in Canada, with CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) in second position and Costco Wholesale taking the third spot. Rounding out the top 10 most trusted brands in Canada are: Home Hardware, Home Depot, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Band-Aid, Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix, Interac, Columbia Sportswear, and Canadian Tire.
“Consumers are paying closer attention to a brand’s values and its social responsibility,” says Dr. Saul Klein, Dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “Being honest and authentic, and communicating a plan of action when faced with criticism, for example, ensured that MEC didn’t lose trust among its customers - and that made all the difference.”
Along similar lines, Gillette saw an increase in values-based trust; which measures a brand’s ability to act responsibly and stay true to its values. We attribute this to the brand’s hard-hitting “The Best Men Can Be” ad campaign which challenged overt masculinity, addressed bullying and sexism, and responded to the #MeToo movement. This increase in the brand’s values-based trust score propelled its overall trust ranking from 88 in 2018 to 29 in 2019.
“Our index continues to highlight the importance of a company standing up for its values, through its words and its actions, and the effect this has on consumer trust,” Dr. Klein continues. “The brand trust index also shows that failures on this front can lead to drastic negative impact on a brand’s overall trust among consumers.”
An example of this is the dismal performance of social media platforms on the Gustavson Brand Trust Index. Facebook’s values-based trust score saw a substantial decline from last year, while Snapchat and Instagram also experienced a decline in standings. This erosion of trust in social media continues from small losses in the 2018 study to much larger distrust amongst consumers in 2019, with social media brands now accounting for 4 of the 9 least trusted brands in Canada.
The Gustavson Brand Trust Index is the only study done by an academic institution that investigates consumer trust, the factors that affect it, and the brands that succeed at it. The team at the Gustavson School of Business established this Index in 2015 with an aim to raise awareness on the role trust plays in the minds of consumers when making purchasing decisions.
The Index highlights how shared values, relationship management and customer experience, influence consumer trust. It also measures the relationships between brand performance, social equity, trust, and advocacy for brands in Canada.
The 2019 Gustavson Brand Trust Index measured opinions of over 7200 Canadian consumers on 313 national brands, across 26 different product categories.
Other key findings from the 2019 Gustavson Brand Trust Index include:
- The top three most trusted brands in Canada are membership-based businesses
- Consumers have different expectations of brands depending on what they sell – consumers place more value on relationship trust with service-based brands. In contrast, consumers place more value on functional trust with product-based brands
- While trust in key institutions has eroded significantly over the past few years, the average brand trust score for all brands surveyed in the 2019 trust index has gone up compared to last year
- Female consumers are more trusting than their male counterparts, while millennials are less trusting compared to any other generation
- 8 out of 10 brands at the bottom of the Gustavson Brand Trust Index also ranked among the brands that Canadians are least likely to recommend
For a detailed overview on the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, click here: https://www.uvic.ca/gustavson/brandtrust/
About the Gustavson Brand Trust Index:
The Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) measures Canadian consumers’ opinions about corporate and product brands across various categories.
The GBTI evaluates responses from Canadians to assess consumer levels of brand trust and what causes them to recommend a brand to their friends and family. The team behind the GBTI found that Canadian consumers closely link brand trust with consumer advocacy. The responses are indexed to provide rankings for the brands nationally, by category, gender, age, region and income.
The Gustavson Brand Trust Index was established to raise awareness of the role trust plays in the minds of consumers when making purchasing decisions. It measures the relationships between brand performance, social equity, trust and advocacy for brands in Canada.
This initiative highlights Gustavson’s goal of educating and championing responsible leadership, part of the vital impact that drives UVic’s sense of purpose as a leading teaching and research hub.
For more information on the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, please visit https://www.uvic.ca/gustavson/brandtrust/index.php
Deepa Pillay (Beattie Tartan) at 250-514-6783 or [email protected]
Krista Boehnert (Gustavson School of Business) at 250-721-6630 or [email protected]