According to a study by McCann, 42% of Americans find companies and brands to be less truthful today than they were 20 years ago. There are several factors that have contributed to this mistrust. From overuse of claims like “green” and “natural,” to a dislike of mobile pop-up ads, to the idea that brands who claim social responsibility initiatives are simply “cause marketing,” marketers have an uphill battle when it comes to making a case that customers should believe their claims.
Keep Your Stats, Customers Want Personal Recommendations
Leading the charge for greater transparency is the Millennial generation. They want companies they spend with to be more authentic and transparent and to give back to society generously. They are demanding nothing less, but who and what, exactly do consumers trust?
The fact is, younger generations will treat most corporate advertising with a bit of mistrust. It’s not enough for you to tell them your product meets their needs or that your company commits to community service. Modern consumers want “proof.”
That “proof” doesn’t come in the form of statistics or iron-clad research, but rather advice from people they trust. Friends, respected colleagues, social influencers and peer groups are the most influential means of building trust. According to the Nielsen Trust in Advertising study, 82% of people across generations say they trust people they know to provide them with strong recommendations.
Compare that to the trust-levels of other sources:
- 57% trust television
- 47% trust online video ads
- 42% trust social media
- 39% trust mobile device ads
Many marketers believe they spend too much on advertising and their messages aren’t resonating with their audience. The reality is, those concerns are warranted. Ad blocking services are growing, people are opting out of email marketing, and consumers are growing resentful of auto-play ads online.
But that’s not to say marketing a waste of time. Quite the contrary. Marketing is still effective – and necessary – for building customer relationships, but strategy and methodology may need to shift. Marketers must put in the work to discover which channels are most effective and allocate resources accordingly, and they must personalize their interactions to their customers. Finally, they can support their efforts through influencers in order to build trust and reinforce the messages of their ads.
Authenticity Is The Common Thread
The modern consumer may be influenced by advertising, but they are only likely to trust the claims a brand makes if people they believe in back it up. This means putting much more effort into building relationships and connections with customers on a micro level.
Retailers and brands must be authentic in every interaction with customers in order to create a culture of trust. Paying lip service to things like community involvement won’t help build trust. Quite the contrary, it may hurt it. Every marketing channel and every partnership must make sense for the brand itself. Communication must be personal and relevant and reinforce the idea that a brand is there to provide a customer with precisely what they want or need at just the right time. Advertising for advertising’s sake doesn’t work. Methodical allocation of resources and genuine interactions are the only way to build customer trust.