How to break trust

On average, 2 in 10 say they’ve never lost trust in a company or brand across global markets. This increases to as many as 35% and 32% of Russians and Italians, but drops to as few as 8% and 11% of Indian and South Korean consumers.

Still, another 80% of global consumers have stopped buying from a brand that did something to lose their trust, often switching to a competitor.

Across key international markets, roughly a quarter of consumers have permanently stopped using a company that did something to lose their trust, and about a third switched to a brand’s competitors as a result of trust-breaking actions. Another near-quarter says that although they’ve stopped using a company that broke their trust, they would be willing to reconsider them in the future. Just 1 in 10 – and as high as 24% of Indians, 15% of Americans, and 14% of South Koreans – say that they’ve continued using a company that has done something to lose their trust.

A quarter of global consumers permanently stopped using a company that did something to lose their trust, and a near-third switched to a brand’s competitors as a result of trust-breaking actions

Thinking about times companies or brands you used lost your trust, select all that apply.

80%

On average, two in ten global consumers have never lost trust in a brand – but another eight in ten have stopped buying from one that did something to lose their trust, often switching to a competitor.

Shares of global adults who stopped using or continued using a brand that broke their trust in the following way:

As would be expected, functional and experiential matters were the top trust-breakers that have led global consumers to stop buying from or using a brand altogether, with 4 in 10 indicating as much.

Even still, privacy or social issues including mishandling of customer data, unethical behavior and poor treatment of the environment or company employees were also deal-breakers for fair share of global consumers.

That said, potentially polarizing instances of corporate activism around important issues have rarely damaged relationships to the point of abandonment: A brand’s stance on social or political issues has led just 1 in 10 to stop buying from or using the brand, and fewer than 1 in 10 said a company staying silent on a social or political issue that was important to them has been a deal breaker. PR crises and data breaches show similar effects: Fewer than 2 in 10 global consumers say they have entirely stopped supporting a brand that experienced one of these.

NOTABLE DEAL BREAKERS BY MARKET

  • A data breach that resulted in the consumer’s personal information being compromised was significantly more likely to lead Chinese consumers to stop using a company
  • Russians are more likely to have stopped using a brand due to quality concerns, their personal information being compromised in a data breach, a company’s publicity crises or its handling of COVID-19
  • U.K. consumers have been particularly put off by leadership missteps and silence on important issues, as well as price increases – the latter of which is also true among Europeans

Share who stopped using a brand that broke their trust in the following way:

TRUST DRIVERS AND DEALBREAKERS

And while functional and experiential matters have led to sizable drops in usage and the greatest dents in trust, missteps related to social issues would be nearly as damaging to consumers’ trust in the offending brand.

In other words, though these missteps might not lead to immediate abandonment by consumers or perceivable impacts on the bottom line, they will almost certainly harm a brand’s reputation – which, if either compounded by other oversights or missteps or left unremedied, may very well translate to more permanent and longer-term financial damage.

To what extent would each of the below affect your trust in a brand/company?

Drivers of Usage Among Global Consumers

While global consumers are unlikely to abandon a brand they trusted due to bad word of mouth, they would very likely do so over jeopardized personal information, overcharging, under-delivering and bad experiences – not to mention a range of socially irresponsible behaviors including acting unethically, treating employees or other stakeholders poorly, or mishandling of social issues.

Up Next: Conclusion

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