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Customers Are Watching How You Handle This Crisis

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Do Consumers Trust Your Brand?

A recent survey of 1,000 people in 12 countries, including the United States, U.K. and China, on brand trust and the COVID-19 pandemic from the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer found there’s an almost unanimous worldwide belief that brands have a critical role during this trying time.

People expect the global socioeconomic and political challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, as well as the existential threats of widespread illness and unprecedented isolation, to be tackled by brands, not just the government.

According to Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, if you were ever in doubt that brands matter, the new data from this research reveals “the power and necessity of brands as well as their urgent need to act.”

“Brands that act in the interest of their employees, stakeholders and society at large will reinforce their expertise, leadership and trust and immeasurably strengthen the bond they have with consumers.”

Nearly nine in 10 respondents from the global study feel that brands should not only tackle social struggles in light of the coronavirus outbreak, but also act accordingly to safeguard the financial security of their employees and suppliers. In the U.S., 44% of participants indicated that brands must do everything in its power to protect their workers and vendors—even if it means suffering monetary losses—in order to earn or keep their trust as consumers.

The Case for Empathy

The U.S. market is high in politicization and low in media trust, which means that brands are expected to fill in those informational gaps and take on a new role as reliable news sources.

In fact, 34% of U.S. survey respondents indicated that brands must keep people informed about the virus and the progress being made in the fight against it in order to earn or keep their trust.
Similarly, 33% of U.S. respondents agreed that brands must serve as educators and offer people vital information about the virus and how to protect themselves from it in order to earn or keep their trust.

Survey respondents also want brands to use traditional media outlets, such as television, radio or newspapers, email and the brand’s website to communicate updates.

Four Traits Consumers Look For in Brands During Crisis

1. Show Up and Do Your Part

2. Don’t Act Alone

3. Solve, Don’t Sell

4. Communicate with Compassion

Trust and willingness to purchase are on the line

The impact the pandemic is already having on consumer trust and willingness to purchase products from said trustworthy brands, according to the study.

Twenty-nine percent of U.S. survey respondents have already begun using a new brand due to the innovative or compassionate way they have responded to COVID-19, highlighting the influence favorable brand reactions to the pandemic have had on decision making and buyer loyalty.

Sixty-one percent of U.S. survey respondents agree that how well a brand responds to this crisis will have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy that brand in the future. 65% of global participants from the entire 12-market study agree with that sentiment.

Fifty-five percent of U.S. respondents indicated that at this time, they are turning to brands they feel they can absolutely trust more often.


This post is a synopsis of the full article published in AdWeek on March 31, 2020. 

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