Trust Barometer and Corporate Responsibility


Many of us trust brands from our generations. Dettol was there since my childhood. The older generations are loyal customers of Vicks, Moti bar soap, and MDH!

As the generations are evolving, the trust factor is becoming multifaceted. This generation thinks a lot more than the product ( if you are not thinking about it, please start analyzing your TRUSTED BRANDS). A brand that performs best at financial levels may or may not be equally successful at other social parameters. As we enter 2021 and witness the vaccination program in India, the BSE Sensex hits figure 47950 as of today, there are shifts in some perspectives during Covid 19 pandemic period. It will be interesting to review a TRUST BAROMETER analysis to understand Why and How BUSINESSES have impacted the trust FACTOR.

Edelman is a global communications firm that partners with businesses and organizations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. The institution released its 2021 trust barometer in January. This year’s study shows that business is not only the most trusted institution among the four studied, but it is also the only trusted institution with a 61 percent trust level. Business is the only institution seen as both ethical and competent.

Here are some key pointers from the report

  • In Jan 2021 institutional trust level returns to the pre-covid level.
  • Trust in Search engines, Traditional media, Social media, Owned media has declined.
  • Academic experts, government officials, CEOs have declined the trust levels while journalists have increased there trust levels.
  • Trust in the employer remains at overall 89% in India, with 82% for business, 79% for government, 78% for NGOs, and 69% for media.
  • Consumer Packaged Goods and Health care see the positive trends in the barometer, while fashion seeing the 7 point decline.
  • There is small decline in the trust levels companies headquartered in India, compared to those headquartered in China, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, UK, Japan and Germany. Companies headquartered in Mexico and Italy have gained the trust.
  • 78% agree that those with less education, less money and fewer resources are being unfairly burdened with most of the suffering, risk of illness, and need to sacrifice due to the pandemic.
  • Pandemic added to persistent personal and societal fears like job loss, hackers attacks, climate change, contracting Covid 19.
  • 68% employees choose to work at home.
  • There is net change in prioritizing family, scientific literacy, media and information literacy, political awareness and speaking out regarding changes and reforms.
  • There is awareness and increased urgency to address fundamental problems in health care, education, climate change, poverty, fake news, economic and social divide, discrimination, racism.

When it comes to brand performance during the pandemic here are interesting figures

  • 85% say that they must be able to trust the brand to do what is right.
  • 65% agree that our country will not make it through this crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing the challenges. And this is completely true when we consider challenges other than pandemic also!
  • 67% think that brands and companies are responding more quickly and effectively to the pandemic than the government is!
  • 33% convinced other people to stop using brand that is not acting properly in response to the pandemic! ALERT for brands that this percentage is likely to grow if they do not comply with environmental crisis too!
  • 86% think that brands must do everything they can to protect the well-being and financial security of their employees and their suppliers, even if it means suffering big financial losses until the pandemic ends.
  • 90% think that brands must partner with government and relief agencies to address the crisis.
  • 86% think that brand must function as educators.

Next to governments, people are looking at businesses to address the issues proactively. The heightened expectations bring CEOs new demands to focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy to deliver profits. If you look at the percentages and various aspects that brands have to consider are now much beyond the product claims.

NOW is the time for companies to analyze the business and align them with UN SDGs. I believe that goals within the business organizations will benefit the internal and external stakeholders within the country.

This left me with the following questions in mind…

1- Revisiting the 2021 trust barometer report, how Indian business analyze their perspective and their way ahead?
2- Can SDG Aligning with the Business help brands to gain the trust and loyalty of the customers?
3- How startup ecosystem see the TRUST factor impacting foreign direct investments, expansions, mergers, and acquisitions across India?

4- Can business realize this responsibility of TRUST? and focus on internal and external stakeholders rather than shareholders? Can they be more transparent in engagement strategies and impact assessments?

The trust barometer report highlights key facts, figures, and gaps in the trust level pre-covid and post-covid pandemic. There will be many societal issues to address post-pandemic. Can Business, Government, NGOs, and media come together fairly to address the serious issues at hand?

Supercharged with digitization and automation the pandemic has presented so many improvement opportunities, in almost every sector. Rethinking, re-skilling will be most important along with cross-sector collaboration. Can government and business also focus on clear communication with academia for required skills?

It will be really interesting to see how everything shapes up to the normal post pandemic.

TRUST will be measure driver of CHANGE.

The coming decade will see a paradigm shift in how people look at trust, with more active social media and digitization everything will be accessed by everybody…. I am excited to witness this extraordinary change…

Let me know your views on this!

Look forward to hearing back.

Stay safe out there!

PS: Here is the 21st Annual Edelman Trust Barometer report if you would like to review it in more details.

Here is the interesting percentages that reflect the brand trust and their response to pandemic situation!

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