Weighing in on America’s most trusted brands.

tutdIf someone were to tell you that the Unites States Postal Service is the most trusted brand in America right now, that might seem surprising at first blush. But that’s what research firm Morning Consult has determined in its first-ever survey of brand trust, in a report issued this past month.

Survey respondents were asked how much they trust each of the brands under study to “do what is right.” The ranking was determined by the share of respondents giving the highest marks in response to the question – namely, that they trust the brand “a lot” to do what is right.

The USPS scored 42% on this measure. By comparison, runner-up Amazon scored ~39% and next-in-line Google scored ~38%.

Wal-Mart rounded out the top 25 brands, with a score of ~32%.

The Morning Consult survey was large, encompassing more than 16,000 interviews and covering nearly 2,000 product and service brands. The size of the research endeavor allowed for evaluation based on age demographics and other segment criteria.

Not surprisingly, ratings and rankings differed by age.  Unsurprisingly, the USPS is ranked highest with the Gen X and Boomer generations, whereas it’s Google that outranks all other brands among Gen Z and Millennial consumers.

mibAnother finding from the research is that of the 100 “most trusted” brands, only two were established after the year 2000 – Android and YouTube. That compares to 20 of the top 100 most-trusted brands that were founded before 1900.  Clearly, a proven track record – measured in decades rather than years – is one highly significant factor in establishing and maintaining brand trust.

Also interesting is the study’s finding that brand attributes related to product or service “reliability’ are far more significant over factors pertaining to “ethics.” Shown below are the factors which two-thirds or more of the survey respondents rated as “very important”:

  • Protects my personal data: ~73% rate “very important”
  • Makes products that work as advertised: ~71%
  • Makes products that are safe: ~70%
  • Consistently delivers on what they promise: ~69%
  • Provides refunds if products don’t work: ~68%
  • Treats their customers well: ~68%
  • Provides good customer service: ~66%

By contrast, the following factors were rated “very important” by fewer than half of the respondents in the survey:

  • Produces products in an ethically responsible way: ~49% rate “very important”
  • Produces products in a way that doesn’t harm the environment: ~47%
  • Has the public interest in mind when it comes to business practices: ~43%
  • Is transparent about labor practices and the supply chain: ~42%
  • Produces goods in America unless it is particularly costly: ~40%
  • Has a mission beyond just profit: ~39%
  • Has not been involved in any major public scandal: ~38%
  • Gives back to society: ~37%
  • Has strong ethical or political values: ~34%

There is much additional data available from the research, including findings on different slices of the consumer market. The full report is accessible from Morning Consult via this link (fee charged).

The Confluence of “Mature Marketing” and B-to-B MarComm

Conference attendees, mature marketing and B-to-B buyersIn recent years, a seemingly endless stream MarComm literature has been published focusing on how to communicate effectively with different target groups. 

Whether it’s seniors … baby boomers … Gen-X or Gen-Yers … minority populations … B-to-B or technical audiences, marketers have all sorts of helpful advice coming in from all sides.

The more I’ve been reading this material, the more I’m seeing confluence rather than divergence. 

For example, there’s a high degree of commonality between marketing to “mature” consumers and B-to-B audiences.  The overlap is huge, actually.

Consider these aspects of crafting strong MarComm messages that make good sense for both B-to-B and mature audiences:

  • Sticking to the facts about products or services.  Both audiences tend to make judgments and decisions based on “information and intelligence” rather than “emotions or peer pressure.”
  • Providing lots of content.  “More is more” with these audiences, which tend to be far more voracious in their reading habits and appreciate the availability of copious information.
  • Avoiding “hype” in MarComm messages.  These audiences have “seen it all” and aren’t easily bamboozled.
  • Avoiding “talking down” to these audiences.  They are experienced people (and experience is the best educator); they have good instincts, too.
  • Designing communications so that these audiences will stick around and absorb what marketers have to say.  This means avoiding small type, garish colors and gratuitous design elements … not to mention the slow-loading graphics or animated visual hi-jinks that pepper too many websites.

None of this is to contend that emotions don’t play a role in driving purchase decisions.  But the reasoning processes that mature audiences and B-to-B buyers use to filter and evaluate MarComm messages are far more consequential than any “creative” aspects of the message platform could possibly deliver.

It would be nice if more marketers would remember this when crafting campaigns that target the “thinking” audiences out there.