What drives brand trust, what destroys it and brands’ big opportunity to capitalize on changing dynamics

With trust playing an increasingly important role in brand and business performance, insight on what drives and damages trust is essential for navigating increasingly discerning consumers. To gain comprehensive insight on table stakes behind and boundaries around global consumers’ trust in brands, Morning Consult surveyed more than 15,000 adults in key international markets in March 2021 to assess what builds trust in brands, what breaks it and how certain missteps would impact consumers’ trust in and purchase of today’s brands.

2 in 10

On average, 2 in 10 global consumers have never lost trust in a brand – but 80% have stopped buying from one that did something to lose their trust, often switching to a competitor.

Top drivers of both purchasing consideration of and trust in a brand are predominantly functional, relating to value, protecting customers’ data and quality, but more social and emotional qualities like treating customers and employees well as well as honesty and transparency in business practices are also important to majorities of global consumers.


or more global adults have stopped using a brand because of quality issues or poor customer service. But a quarter have also entirely stopped using a brand because privacy or social issues including data breaches, unethical behavior and irresponsibility toward the environment or employees.


or more U.S. adults say that the average company delivers on key functional and experiential qualities, but fewer believe the average company is delivering on CSR-related qualities. On the net, just over half say that the average company acts in the best interest of society, but less feel the average company stands for something beyond profit or agree that companies don’t tend to hide important information in fine print.

2 in 10

Still, 2 in 10 on the net feel companies in major industries, big brands and even their CEOs have a responsibility to do what’s right – even if the majority of U.S. adults don't trust them to do so.

Data breaches, bad experiences, unreliability and numerous social missteps and oversights would significantly damage trust among global consumers.


Top drivers of purchasing consideration of and trust in a brand are both functional and emotional, with good value for the price, protecting personal data and making high quality products of greatest importance to both consideration and trust among global consumers.

Social qualities related to acting honestly, authentically and in the best interest of society as well as the more emotional personal connection to the brand or the reputational benefit of being a well-known company, meanwhile, are reported as being more important in driving trust than consideration.

Drivers of Brand Purchase and Trust Among Global Consumers

Still, with reputation the primary input for consideration, and trust a critical component of reputation, attributes that consumers say contribute to their trust in a brand should not be overlooked. As much as brands might bet on and orient product strategies around consumers’ calculated reasoning at the moment of purchase, customers are humans before they’re shoppers or spenders. While brands won’t make it far if lacking on functional features relating to consumer needs, it’s critical to remember that human decisions, purchasing or otherwise, stem from a combination of rational and logical System 2 and emotional System 1 thinking.

If anything, these more emotive traits connect with consumers’ automatic, intuitive and unconscious thinking – otherwise known as “System 1.” Performing well on them acts as a leading indicator of the brands likely to yield higher consideration and ultimate purchase when the more controlled, analytical, logic-based “System 2” characteristics encompassed by value and its components are considered.

Drivers of Brand Purchase and Trust Among Global Consumers

Drivers of Purchase Among Global Consumers

No significant differences across markets or regions exist on Experiential Drivers of Purchase


  • Reliability is notably less important to Russians, while a brand being well-known or around for a long time is more important to purchasing decisions among consumers in this market
  • In Europe, Spanish consumers rate “has not been involved in any major public scandal,” “is a brand I love,” and “gives back to society” as notably more important to their purchasing decisions
  • East Asian (Japanese and South Korean) consumers are more likely to rate emotional and social attributes as less important, while Latin Americans and Indians consider these more important

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