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Why Transparency Matters for Brands in a Post-Truth World

Posted By: SGK January 30, 2018

Coming off of a year of uncertainty, more than ever before, brands and marketers need to work diligently to keep in touch with consumer behaviors — connecting in an impactful and positive way.

Asserting efficacy and trust will be a top priority for brands across categories as long as skepticism drives purchasing behavior and consumer attitudes. Since consumers rely on trust in many forms, its up to brands to find new ways to build that trust. As we look forward, bolder action from brands will be incredibly important and will go a long way in fostering trust.

According to Mintel, to establish the “Trust Funding” trend for 2018, they analyzed pending political and legislative events, consumer attitudes, and my looked at the momentum in product and campaign launches.

WATCH: Mintel’s 2018 Consumer Trends for North America 

While the trust funding trend is picking up momentum in other regions of the world, below we will discuss how it is playing out in North America:

What is Trust Funding?

Trust in North American is diminishing — in people, government, and companies. A lot of consumers really want to feel good about what they buy, so they’re putting their dollars where their trust remains intact.

Companies and brands must find new ways and change up the nuances in which they operate to regain trust. Looking back at 2016, the Oxford Dictionary named their word of the year “post truth” — the idea that opinion and emotion have more of a factor in shaping public opinion than actual facts.

Since then, we’ve seen a lot of developments as it relates to news. We live in a 24-hour news cycle, and whenever a scandal happens, we hear about it immediately. Everything is out in the open, whether from people, brands and government on social media; all of this creates the perfect storm leading up to consumer skepticism.

Looking at a couple interesting data points that highlight the way social media plays a role in consumer opinion:

Only 5% of Canadians say they trust news stories they read on social media sites. – Mintel Consumer Trends, 2018

8% of Americans trust product information that they get from social media/networking websites more than other sources. – Mintel Consumer Trends, 2018

With all of this skepticism, we’re not only living in post-truth world, but in a post-trust world as well. In this post-trust world, we see that chasms in society are growing larger, which furthers distrust between different groups of people.

With all of this, we’ve seen a growing expectation that consumers have for brands to stand up and speak out. Brands are expected to establish their values, and to make them known. If a brand is in the same “tribe” as consumers, they are viewed as being trustworthy and are likely to purchase from or support that brand.

In fact, according to Mintel, 80% of US consumers say that professional sports teams should take a stronger stand on controversial issues. A third of Canadian millennials say they enjoy social media posts that raise awareness of ethical issues.

READ: 4 Key Trends That Define How Millennials Interact With Brands

We see a lot of brands across the board identifying with certain issues. While it is certainty risky, it’s a risk worth taking because building up a brand tribe goes a long way towards building trust.

There is also an expectation from consumers (55% of US consumers) for brands to be morally and ethically good. Ultimately, it’s time to innovate and stay ahead of the curve and competitors, while inspiring and embracing cultural movements.

As the trust funding trend continues to evolve throughout the year, brands should leverage the opportunity to react sooner, rather than later. Brands will need to court consumers with transparency, honesty, and facts; at the same time, they will need to find new ways to prove their positions.