Brands need to become more engaged in actively seeking trust from consumers, according to Carat Australia’s head of insights, Christine McKinnon.
Speaking at Carat’s ‘Redefining Series: 21st Century Trust’ event in Sydney on Tuesday, McKinnon encouraged brands to start pursuing consumer trust, as opposed to idly sitting back and expecting it.
“Trust needs to be explicitly active and always on strategy. You can no longer earn trust simply by not stuffing up,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon added the ramifications of neglecting or ignoring the importance of consumer trust can be detrimental to brands, thanks to the new “review economy”, as used in Uber, Airbnb and TripAdvisor.
“People are no longer willing to stay silent when they see injustices, brands can’t hide when they’re doing things wrong, institutions can’t hide, and everyone is forced to be held accountable,” McKinnon said.
“Brands, just like [Carat] and other companies will face the inevitable if we behave in an untrustworthy manner.”
“This climate is propelling trust to the absolute forefront of how we communicate with our customers,” she added.
Looking to the future, McKinnon offered some insights into how big brands can not only earn trust in consumers but create lasting positive impacts on their communities.
One action is big brands humanising their CEOs through championing social and political issues close to companies’ hearts.
McKinnon touted the likes of Atlassian CEO and billionaire Mike Cannon Brookes fronted up to the Senate Select Committee on the future of work and workers in the Australian tech industry during the 457 visa changes.
As well as him, Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith called on the US Senate last year to quicken its pace in helping children impacted by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program changes.
Most recently, responding to reports two black men had been arrested at a Starbucks store while waiting for a third person to join them, the coffee chain’s CEO Kevin Johnson vowed to close 8,000 US stores so employees could undertake racial-bias training.
“We’re seeing more human behaviour from companies, where brands are empowering employees to be better brand ambassadors through positive actions,” she said.
For McKinnon, brands are most successful in earning consumer trust and appreciation by “making actions, not ads” and “making strategic choices for citizens, not customers”.