Trust vs Happiness
The direct synergy between trust and happiness is no secret. For years, Scandinavian cities have topped the happiness index charts with solid scores across the board, whilst at the same time, their trust index is significantly greater than most other nationalities. For many, an obvious correlation between the two is lacking. Unlike, for example, the way people may associate happiness and wealth or opportunity. So, why does one impact the other?
Many studies have been conducted over the years about the interconnectedness of the two. At a very top level, it makes logical sense. When humans feel trusting towards their fellow beings it eradicates a whole layer of negative feelings, such as worry, paranoia or loneliness.
The same can be said for brands. When humans feel trusting towards the brands that they buy from it eradicates a similar layer of negativity, feelings of disillusionment, guilt or anger.
Trust in 2021
This is no revelation – so why is it relevant now? Trust has been well documented as a marketing trend for 2021. This will surprise no one. We saw it coming. First highlighted by the pandemic, it became overtly clear last year that when consumers feel forced into survival mode, they opt for the brands they trust. Covid seems only to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Incrementally over the course of the past decade, consumers have begun to question their trust of brands that failed to display transparency around supply chains and inform customers of the consequences of items retailing at staggeringly low prices. This shift – combined with a new wave of ethically motivated consumers, which research suggests are mostly but not exclusively millennials – has brought the subject of trust to the fore.
So, reverting to our original point, if trust has an impact on happiness, we raise the question – do brands that we trust give us a feel-good factor too? Yes, they do.
This fact alone gives trust utmost importance. It’s not a trend about new tech like AI or a tactic like influencer marketing. Trust relates to emotion. And what is good marketing if it doesn’t evoke emotion? Of all the emotions brands should be cemented in cultivating, it’s happiness.
Our simple concluding thought on the matter is this, trust shouldn’t be a measurement only relevant to cities, countries or nationalities. Every brand must start having serious conversations about their trust index. How would your organisation score?
In the following sections, we’ll discuss the practical steps marketers can take to building trust with consumers.
Step 1: Segmentation
Developing trust is no mean feat. So where should brands begin?
To cultivate trust, brands must have an intricate understanding of their audience – only then do they know what is important to them. That sounds obvious. So, what practical steps can marketers take to communicate in a way that demonstrates understanding?
Recent research suggests that brands should segment their audience based on their values rather than mere demographics. Since marketing was first recognised as a discipline, demographics have been the basis of audience segmentation. But demographics offer little more than a rough guess of what may appeal to individuals. Last year we saw an array of reports published about the damaging impact of stereotypes. Some would argue demographic segmentation fuels this sort of inaccurate assumption.
So, in the age of ethical consumers, purpose-led marketing and transparency, a more steadfast starting point for segmentation lies with consumers’ values. Values, after all, inform feelings which consequentially turn into behaviours. When brands are able to connect on a humane and empathetic level, consumers are more willing to trust intentions – this includes trusting that their needs are being met.
There is no fast solution to understanding what consumers care about, however. The most useful method of gathering this type of qualitative data is talking with people and listening to what they have to say.
Skyscanner executed this brilliantly throughout last year. Having used UX testing platform UserTesting for four years prior to Covid, the brand pivoted its use at the start of the pandemic using it to ask five core questions that described users’ attitudes toward travel amidst the public health crisis. These insights informed a range of departments at Skyscanner including branding and marketing, product development and commercial operations as the business returned to growth. And whilst we’re not sure whether Skyscanner went on to use these insights to segment consumers, we recommend that’d be a great next step.
Tools to help
We appreciate the growing importance of accurately segmenting your audience, but also the challenge of implementing it effectively. This is the sole reason we built a segmentation engine into our marketing platform, Cubed.
Cubed groups consumers on a variety of attributes based on behaviours such as likelihood to buy a product, likelihood to leave the site and a range of events such as ‘started the checkout but never finished,’ and so on. The data gathered and insights produced by Cubed allows us to understand the consumer journey in a much more complex way.
Through this type of targeted communication, not only can brands deliver messaging that resonates but is also more likely to convert.
Step 2: Transparency
Patagonia: The Footprint Chronicles
Brand transparency and trust are two essential, and connected components of building a successful brand.
Patagonia has been talking about prioritising transparency for a decade. Back in 2011, the outdoor apparel brand launched its ‘Footprint Chronicles’ campaign, establishing a higher standard of expectations for brands and defining the meaning of true transparency.
Rather than publish a corporate sustainability report, as so many others did, Patagonia created a rich digital experience that allowed consumers to appraise every step of the supply chain and make more informed decisions about the garments they purchase.
Ten years on, Patagonia continue to update the Footprint Chronicles section of their website. Whilst many may have viewed this as a campaign, Patagonia recognised it as so much more – and so, continue to lead in the realms of ethics by providing consumers with clear and concise information about the origins of their products.
According to the company blog, the Footprint Chronicles was born out of Socrates’ philosophy on leading an examined life – the need to continuously learn about ourselves in order to lessen our own footprint. It also grew from the belief that by sharing what they had learned with the public, the brand would earn customer trust and inspire other businesses to be more transparent too.
Not only is it the right thing to do, but it has a hugely positive impact on sales. According to research by Accenture, 62% of consumers want companies to stand up for issues they are passionate about – whilst 66% of consumers think transparency is one of a brand’s most attractive qualities. Patagonia is proof that this works. In 2018 the brand’s worth surpassed the $1 billion mark. Despite avoiding fashion-led advertising and being openly anti-consumerist, Patagonia demonstrates that purpose – doing good and being good – outrank a profit-driven strategy, every time.
By providing consumers with the type of transparent information detailed in the Footprint Chronicles about the inner logistics of production, brands have the opportunity to step onto the first rung on the trust ladder.
Absolut: The Vodka with Nothing to Hide
Another brand ahead of the curve in the conversation about transparency was Absolut Vodka, who in 2018 released this attention-grabbing spoof staff induction video that featured their staff – naked.
We’ll just leave this here.
Three things you should take away from this article (and into your next strategy meeting):
- Trust is more than a trend. Trust is an essential attribute brands must consciously nurture with consumers.
- Be smart about segmentation and employ some really great tools to help.
- Start with transparency, trust will follow.