How COVID-19 has changed brand trust

In general, corporate actions in response to COVID-19 throughout the past year did not have a net negative impact on brand trust. Sentiments were more divided in Latin American markets, however, where the shares indicating corporate actions led them to trust companies more, the same amount, or less were close to even. Indians were most likely to have experienced trust boosts due to pandemic responses.

To what extent did companies' or brands' actions in response to the pandemic impact your overall trust in them in the past year, if at all?

To what extent did companies' or brands' actions in response to the pandemic impact your overall trust in them in the past year, if at all?

American Consumers

COVID-19 RESPONSE

In the U.S., roughly equal shares said brands’ COVID-19 responses either boosted or reduced their trust in brands ­­­­­– a similar impact on brand trust as corporate actions around the movement for racial equality or the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

To identify why brand trust improved for some, we asked respondents to provide specifics on what brands did to build their trust in the wake of COVID-19.

Top responses to the pandemic that built consumers’ trust involved compliance and safety (“took proper precautions,” “enforced social distancing,” “protected their staff and customers”), as well as convenience and alternative solutions to help people in time of need. Many also explicitly mentioned “help” – whether with reference to helping employees, communities, vulnerable consumers and essential workers, by giving money, or otherwise.

Additionally, we asked respondents to cite their reason for why they either gained or lost trust in brands due to COVID-19. Consumers frequently mentioned stakeholders in their responses, which suggests that a lack of sufficient emphasis on or care for key groups like employees, customers and people in general stuck out to consumers (“raised prices,” “did not ensure their employees or customers were looked after”). Non-compliance with health- and safety-related procedures (“didn’t follow guidelines,” “didn’t practice social distancing”) were commonly referenced as well.

Brands Gaining Trust Because of COVID-19 Response

Unsurprising given these top drivers of increased trust, brands most often cited by U.S. consumers as being more trusted now because of their COVID-19 response include big-box retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Costco, cleaning brands like Clorox and Lysol, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies like Pfizer, J&J, and CVS, entertainment brands like Apple and Disney, and a number of auto companies including Ford, Tesla, Toyota and BMW.

Up Next: Building and Breaking Trust

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