CONCLUSION: A TURNING POINT FOR TRUST

Trust is now more than ever an imperative for brand and business growth.

Value, delivered through functional features and experiential elements, remains a table stake for a strong reputation – but trust, gained through delivering on your brand promise and underpinned by social responsibilities and emotional connections – is no longer just “nice to have.”

THE PATH FORWARD

Trust remains a hallmark of strong and lasting relationships. This underscores the opportunity of our times – and of the future – for brands: Moving from marketing to consumers to mattering to people. This means mattering to employees, current customers, communities and the world at large.

Brands have historically needed to meet rational, functional needs in order to earn the permission to connect emotionally, but emotional connection is rapidly becoming as important to initial consideration in the first place. Value, delivered through relevance, sufficiently meeting needs, quality and experience, supplements the more emotional and social side of reputation that trust comprises with a measure of a brand’s functional and experiential performance.

Reputation’s future is in the blurring of these lines: As has tended to be the case, functional and experiential drivers of value will continue to build trust. But emotional and social components underpinning trust will increasingly drive value as defined by the post-pandemic consumer.

This also suggests an imminent sea change in brand loyalty.

Accelerated by the events of the past year, loyalty dynamics are undeniably changing as the rise of e-commerce has democratized discovery, consumers experiment more, and switching is easier than ever. Still, transaction-based rewards programs will continue on their trajectory towards interchangeable commodities, while true brand loyalty will be forged by emotionally powered ties that elevate relationships.

What's Next from Morning Consult's Most Trusted Brands

To help brands resonate with audiences in an era where trust matters more than ever to purchasing decisions, career choices and social capital, Morning Consult's 2021 Most Trusted Brands series offers will continue to explore how to build brand trust in key categories and will provide today’s brand and business leaders with unparalleled depth into the role trust plays in brand growth, corporate reputation and long-lasting consumer relationships.

Sign up for the latest research as Morning Consult continues assessing these essential and emerging dynamics around brand trust across key consumer categories.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victoria Sakal

MANAGING DIRECTOR, BRAND INTELLIGENCE

Victoria Sakal is Morning Consult’s Managing Director of Brand Intelligence. She leads the company’s brand intelligence research, focusing on the intersection of data with marketing strategy, brand reputation, and consumer trends, and is an expert in distilling actionable insights to develop impactful brand strategies.

Formerly at Kantar, Victoria has extensive client experience ranging from established industry leaders to high-growth tech companies and spanning B2B and B2C organizations across industries. She is a repeated co-author of Kantar’s annual BrandZ reports and a co-founder of WPP’s Institute for Real Growth.

Special thanks to Sei Chong, Sam Elbouez, Robin Graziano, Vlad Gorshkov, Nick Laughlin, Tadi Martinez, Laura Maxwell, Kelly Rice, Rachel Venaglia, Vince Wanga, and Sara Wickersham for their significant contributions to the creation of this report.

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