One year on from the first UK lockdown, research shows now is the time for brands to be re-evaluating how they build trust with their audiences

The top qualities that today’s consumers are demanding from brands in the post-pandemic era have been revealed today by Clear Channel UK and JCDecaux UK, as they launch the findings of their new consumer confidence survey.

The research, which involved 1,000 UK consumers, reveals that the top three brand qualities to build trust with UK consumers are product quality (76%), value for price (72%) and transparency (62%). Whilst eco-friendly practices ride high on the national agenda, it’s interesting to see that social responsibility (56.39%) and environmental sustainability (56.27%) sit further down the list than expected, at 10 and 11 respectively.

Top 15 brand qualities ranked:

1Product quality76%
2Value for price72%
4Fair pricing61%
5No hidden costs60%
10Social responsibility56%
11Environmental sustainability56%
12Open communication56%
14Robust customer service51%
15Enjoyable customer experience51%

The findings come as consumer confidence has slumped to its lowest point since 2008. Only 34% of consumers say they trust the brands they use, despite 36% saying they are more likely to engage with brands they trust. 81% of consumers said trust is a deciding factor in their buying decision.

Today, consumers are more wary of how they spend and promoting brand trust is crucial. One year on from the start of UK lockdown, as the country starts to emerge from lockdown and return to ‘normal’ routines and behaviours, brands are under unprecedented pressure to rebuild their customer bases and revitalise sales. These findings are particularly timely to help brands understand what consumers are asking for and double-down their efforts in delivering quality products and services that are value for money.

Across several sectors, the survey showed a clear correlation between trust and level of consumer engagement – with significant uplift in engagement when the brand was deemed trustworthy. Consumers are 30% more likely to engage with luxury goods and automotive brands they trust, and 24% more likely when it comes to travel brands.

The research also suggests that brands really need to consider their advertising spend, and think carefully about how they use influencers and messaging to deliver the best results with consumers:

  • The death of the influencer – 60% of Brits say they are more likely to trust a brand if it is recommended by a friend or family, while just one in five say the same for those used by influencers/public figures.
  • The return of the big screens – TV, outdoor and cinema top league for mediums most effective at changing mindsets, while one in three say they trust out of home (OOH).

Clear Channel UK and JCDecaux UK’s consumer trust research follows a period of sustained interest in the OOH medium and its ability to reach audiences at scale. The study tested the hypothesis that the media context in which a communications message is delivered has a significant effect on consumers’ perception of the brand. The study revealed that OOH was most effective at driving perceptions linked strongly to trust such as honesty, reliability, and safety.

It also demonstrated that OOH is considered a generally ethical medium. The survey found that consumers deemed OOH to be the least likely to manipulate people’s opinions, with 9 in 10 agreeing it is not suspicious or intrusive.

It is clear that trust is important in any good relationship, and the brand-consumer relationship is no exception. With most of the western world having spent much of the last twelve months in lockdown, consumers have been bombarded with a seemingly endless stream of news, messaging and advertising, and the need for reliable and trustworthy sources of information is increasingly important. With such volumes of content, it can be hard for consumers and brands alike to understand what works best and what to trust. As we hopefully emerge from the lockdown period, we are now adjusting to new consumer journeys and new media touchpoints, and the findings of this study should help brands to explore how they can engage with and form long-lasting relationships with their customers. The reality is that most of the big changes the industry is facing were already coming before the pandemic – this period has simply catalysed companies to make changes more quickly, and it has made consumers adopt new behaviours too.

Richard Bon

Joint MD, Clear Channel UK

This important ‘The Moment for Trust’ research shows that four fifths of the public say that trust in the brand influences their purchase choice and that the public trusts Out-of-Home.  As we’ve seen in Justin Gibbons’ recent ‘P² + C = 5’ report, trust has risen to the top of the priority list for communities, media and brands and Out-of-Home can play a powerful part in in building trust for marketers, in particular for campaigns that combine the public screen with the private screen of Online.

Mark Bucknell

Chief Commercial Officer, JCDecaux UK

Brand trust is today’s most important consumer relationship, especially when it comes to a financial product like a pension. It not only convinces customers to sign up or buy a product, but it is also the key ingredient to brand retention. Today’s findings clearly show that certain marketing channels, such as OOH, lend themselves better to build trust because consumers see it as brands making a public commitment. It creates brand fame and familiarity - once you've seen us on a billboard or TV screen, you're more likely to click on a targeted social media ad from us and move all your pensions across. That’s why at Pension Bee, we’re increasingly optimising our marketing campaigns by including a mixture of public and private media, with channels like OOH used to build trust, broaden who we reach, and ultimately, help accelerate our customer growth. 
Importantly, we go where our customers are. As restrictions will begin to ease over the next few months, we’re moving more out of home, where our customer are increasingly, to help the nation back get back to normal.

Jasper Martens

Chief Marketing Officer, PensionBee

Published in Corporate