The coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal for most everything, including the importance of trust. While it is always imperative for brands to cultivate trust with consumers, that need has now reached a critical level. Consumers are demanding brands demonstrate how reliable and compassionate they are during this global crisis. Where a brand’s stance on social issues was previously a make-or-break factor in buying decisions, a brand’s response to COVID-19 will be integral to its long-term survival. Edelman’s new Brand Trust and the Coronavirus Pandemic report highlights important lessons for businesses and brands of all stripes. 

As we discuss how our clients can show up and make a difference during these unprecedented times, there are important benefits and long-term strategic advantages that can be gained—without taking advantage of others’ misfortune (the key word above is “compassion”). This time of crisis is pushing our clients (as well as ourselves) to walk the walk and show, not just tell, who they are to consumers. The choices made today will leave lasting impressions, and generating genuine trust will ensure those impressions are positive.  

Being present, having a voice, contributing to the solution—these aren’t just good for brand goodwill, they’re good for business. It seems we always knew these truths, and now they’ve been proven. 

Consumers are screaming at the top of their lungs for brands to do the right thing.

  • 81% of buyers said this was a deal-breaker or decision factor now.

This virus has pushed us apart physically and the need for connection has never been as strong.

  • In order to keep their trust, 83% of those surveyed indicated they’re looking to brands to help them stay connected and emotionally close.
  • Similarly, 84% would want brands to use social media channels to build community and support people. 

Brands can be rewarded for good behavior even at a time when availability is a key buying factor.

  • In this time of crisis, 60% of consumers are turning more and more to brands they are certain they can trust. 

Market share is shifting right under our noses as brand loyalty becomes more fluid out of necessity.

  • A healthy 37% of consumers surveyed switched to a new brand because of the innovative or compassionate way the brand has responded to COVID-19.

Perhaps most telling in the story of trust is that brands must put people over profits.

  • 71% of consumers agree that “brands and companies that I see placing their profits before people during this crisis will lose my trust forever.”

This means brands cannot stand idly by while the outbreak rages on. The world needs brands to show responsibility, responsiveness and empathy.  It needs brands to take a stand and say, “We’re with you, and here’s how.” As a whole, consumers are watching, weighing and making decisions, informed by a brand’s COVID-19 response, that will impact behaviors and perceptions for years to come. In a world that already demands transparency and action, guiding brand partners  to act in a way that will generate real trust with its consumers will make all the difference

Robin Ashmore
Co-Founder and Principal, Amélie Company,
Board of Directors President, Ad Club Colorado