Brand ‘Competence’ outweighs other aspects in creating trust, according to The Brand Trust Report, India Study 2016, released by TRA recently.
The Brand Trust Report is an annual report that studies the trust held in brands through a scientific and proprietary matrix of Brand Trust. It is measured among 3000 brand influencers across 16 cities every year and it is measured on 61 different attributes of Brand Trust. Essentially PR is a fundamental trust builder and it is imperative that every PR professional understands what Brand Trust is and how it is measured. Reading this report gives the PR professional the extra scientific edge to their profession.
‘Building customer confidence’ was the winning factor last year in the Brand-Trust Matrix. Consumers seem to have been spoilt for choice in terms of brands, according to N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA. As they begin to spend more time scrutinising brands before buying, it becomes essential for brands to maintain their credibility and reinforce consumer’s trust. “In a trust deficit market where brands are continually coming under scrutiny, a need arises for brands to appeal to the rational side of the brain. The perception of ‘competence’ therefore, enables consumers to believe what they see. Tangible outcomes matter most to the consumer in terms of gaining and maintaining ‘trust’ in brands,” he said.
PR plays a critical role in rising or falling trust levels. Essentially PR is a fundamental trust builder and it is imperative that every PR professional understands – what is Brand Trust and how it is measured. Reading this report gives the PR professional the extra scientific edge to their profession, explained Chandramouli. Trust is the fundamental substrate behind every need based transaction; and being unobtrusive and believable, PR helps build trust at the granular level. This is also because there are several levels of scrutiny involved in PR and it is not just ‘brand talk’, he felt. However, PR done wrong can also impact the brand negatively. For instance, brands which insufficiently or wrongly communicate during a crisis, can aggravate a crisis rather than quell it. This impact has a direct correlation in the Brand Trust Report rankings.
Do corporate houses, new age ventures and startups understand the importance of the ‘trust’ factor? Look around the world, almost every bank, every healthcare institution adlibs that they are ‘trusted’, he exclaimed. However, such unsubstantiated claims often work in the opposite way, giving rise to the Trust Paradox – those that claim it, without substantiation, will lose trust in the bargain. So, what is clear is that trust is considered important by brands. They have now started seeking data from us on why they are trusted (or not) and have started to use our scientific, proprietary data to hone their communication ad action strategies. The rhetoric of brands is also quickly changing from size to size of trust.
Brands understand that PR is essential, often more than advertising, he noted. But, often budgets are not allocated, and “PR suffers from a stepson syndrome”. Such brands do not gain commensurate trust, only visibility which often gets confused for trust. Some brands which use the true power of PR, gain trust in the long run and also maintain it, he concluded.
The Brand Trust Report highlights how building ‘trust’ is an essential factor of a communication strategy. The 2016 study involved 18,000 hours of fieldwork covering 2500 consumer-influencers across 16 cities in India and generated 6 million data-points. This is India’s only comprehensive primary study on Brand Trust, published annually since 2011.