Female pharmacist with consumer trust using computer to process prescription medication
Increasing sales

Consumer trust: The holy grail of retail success

Retail consumers are now buying into brand experiences rather than individual retail channels.

They’re craving a sense of identity, continuity and community in their lives, which is being satisfied in part by trusted retail brands. Consumer trust in brands is emerging as the currency you can’t trade and is the core of brand value.  

“Trust is what drives profit margin and share price. It is what consumers are looking for and what they share with one another.” - Larry Light CEO, Arcature

Reliability is key to building consumer trust

Trusted brands have increased their profitability and fostered their market position despite difficult economic times.

Consumer trust statistics show that the strongest driver of consumer trust around the world is reliability*. No surprises. No deception. Just absolute fulfilment of consumers’ expectations every single time.  

Hence, non-fulfilment is your biggest consumer trust threat.  

With this reliability and fulfilment, comes brand advocacy and in a world where consumers trust the opinions of friends and family more than they do brands and manufacturers, brand advocacy is critical. 

The research* also found four important drivers of consumer trust. Firstly, brand trust is driven by honesty, advertising credibility and customer orientation. In our world of incredible connectivity, brands are being punished more easily for dishonesty and inconsistent communications. This is especially the case when it comes to consumer trust in e-commerce.

Secondly, a lower price positioning makes it more difficult to win trust, but some brands manage to, primarily when developing and offering their own brands.

Thirdly, the higher the trust value, the less important the image of a retailer is for the choice priority.

And finally, the higher the trust value, the more the shoppers excuse an unsatisfactory last shopping experience. This applies to both consumer trust in online shopping and in brick-and-mortar experiences.

Male retail worker wearing apron with consumer trust standing outside business

Build your own consumer "trust economy"

Your aim is to build a strategic model that will help your offering win over the empowered, smarter, more informed and spoilt-for- choice consumer. Consumers' expectations of brands are rising. Your brand must not only resonate with your customers, but it also needs to earn their trust, satisfaction and commitment. Brand trust is critical to brand loyalty.

Your "trust economy" should be able to weather the rise and fall of the market forces around you.   

Start by setting the business' reliability goals from top to bottom and measure them constantly against a predetermined set of KPIs.  Ensure this reliability flows through every aspect of the business, including your own manufacturers and suppliers, and instil it into your company DNA.  This is the most fundamental aspect of business fitness.   

When this is in place, monitor your own trustworthiness by looking at how you're travelling in the areas of customer loyalty, advocacy and profitability.

Look at every element that feeds into your trust economy. 'Fit' retailers have a higher Trust economy because they've executed a total omnichannel brand experience, and have learnt how to tactically offer across all these channels. They've done this in context, and also in a personalised way that speaks to the consumers in each of the channels.  

Whether you have a physical or online presence or both, aim to always deliver the most consistently amazing customer service. 

Consumer trust surveys are important for business improvement, so provide channels for customers to give feedback and advocate your offering.  And continually think about relevant reasons to drive customers back.  

Win over the 'smarter' consumers

Customers bring attitudes and expectations to every interaction they have with retailers. Connectivity and collaboration enables them to know a lot about products and brands, and these 'smarter' consumers ultimately decide which retailers have earned their trust. 

Here are 10 tips for building trust in your brand with savvy consumers:

  1. Fulfil all customers' expectations absolutely and without exception.
  2. Communicate and make relevant offers to your consumers based on a profound understanding of them and their preferred channels. 
  3. Genuinely care about your consumers.
  4. Build a unique, consistent and distinctive brand that your consumers love. 
  5. Give your customers some trust credit too. Create two-way trust such as a 'no questions asked' returns policy or the promise of money back if not satisfied.
  6. Empower and value your employees.  
  7. Show your mission and passion internally and externally.  
  8. Innovate and lead – keep abreast of consumer trends, explore different target markets and pursue new opportunities. 
  9. Create a culture of trust in your multi-channel/e-commerce offering.
  10. Have a genuine concern with ethics, environment and societal issues.

Finally, earn consumer trust by listening, learning, anticipating, adapting, executing and excelling, while interacting with growing consumer communities.

*Global Trust Research conducted by the Retail Doctor Group and the Ebeltoft Group of global retail experts.

Peter Strohkorb

Brian Walker

Retail Doctor Group

Retail Doctor Group is one of the leading retail consultancies in Australia, with expertise in insights, strategy and implementation.

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