Study shows South Africans trust Cadbury’s more than Absa, Standard Bank and FNB
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These are just some of the surprises to emerge from the Brand Trust Index, which was developed by Affinity Publishing in conjunction with Markinor, for the 2007 Encyclopaedia of Brands & Branding.
The survey on which the index is based was conducted as part of Markinor’s 2007 National M-Bus, and involves face-to-face interviews with 3 500 South African adults. The results track the ‘trust performance’ of brands and brand categories to create an overall Brand Trust Index – an invaluable tool for brand managers who know that consumer distrust can kill a brand.
Logically speaking, it’s not hard to see why food brands rank higher on the index than service brands – it’s easier to trust a chocolate that is mass manufactured and that only has to deliver on one level than it is to trust a bank that has to deliver on a wide variety of levels and certainly has a lot more potential problem areas. I can’t remember the last time a Cadbury chocolate disappointed me, but I can clearly remember the last time my bank didn’t live up to it’s “How can we help you?” promise.
“Trust is very closely linked to expectation, which is shaped by brand promises,” explains Affinity Publishing’s Ken Preston. “Trust is created when promises – and thus expectations – are met, but it is destroyed when promises are broken.
The complexity of the product thus plays a role in the trust equation – it’s easier to produce a chocolate or a bag of rice that consistently meets its brand promise and consumer expectations, than a bank or insurance product, for example.
“It’s the fine line that brands have to tread – if you create high expectations with bold promises, you simultaneously create a potentially long and hard fall from grace if you don’t meet those expectations. Service brands naturally create high expectations – they have to. Who could sell a banking brand that’s ‘Today. Tomorrow. Together. Mostly.’ or ‘Inspired. Motivated. Involved. Sometimes.’?” Preston asks.
The difficulty for service brands is that they rely on the human factor to meet these high expectations, while manufactured goods (such as chocolate) rely almost solely on the product itself – certainly an easier variable to manage. Not sweet enough? Just add more sugar. It’s not that easy with people who lack ‘sweetness’!
So do manufactured goods, such as chocolate, have an unfair advantage over service goods such as banking brands, when it comes to measuring levels of trust?
Perhaps, says Preston, but it’s also important to realize that manufactured goods aren’t rated solely on the end-product.
“Trust is an incredibly complex emotion, and extends way beyond the delivery of the actual product, to include such issues as pricing, the image of the mother brand, corporate governance issues and so forth,” he says.
So, for example, the Tiger Brands price fixing scandal, coupled with the imminent bread price hike might have an adverse affect on bread brands like Albany, despite the fact that the product itself continues to meet brand promises.
By the same token, and although retail stores were not measured in this particular survey, a previous survey saw Pick ‘n Pay rated as the country’s most trusted top company just after the retailer emerged from a poison extortion crisis in 2003, a fact put down to the open and honest manner in which the company handled the crisis.
“As the business community becomes more transparent, so the companies that produce and represent brands will come under closer consumer scrutiny. Their actions at a corporate level will impact on the trust that consumers place in their brands,” says Preston.
Cadbury marketing director Geoff Whyte concurs, commenting that the historical exclusion of the bulk of the local population from financial services has no doubt cast the entire sector under a pall, and the ongoing scandals regarding fees, penalties and charges on insurance, banking and investment products certainly don’t cast these institutions as trustworthy entities.
“A poorly regulated financial sector has much more in the way of smoke and mirrors than a transparent sector such as confectionery,” says Whyte. “In countries where the financial sector is better regulated, and where there is more competition and better transparency, people will no doubt feel that they receive consistent quality in far greater numbers, driving up trust scores in those sectors,” he says.
An international study conducted by Unisys seems to supports this theory, with the retail banking sector being rated the most trusted industry in both the US and the UK.
So is there hope for the banking and insurance sector?
“Of course there is,” says Preston. “Because of the immense amount of responsibility placed upon banking and insurance brands, they should naturally inspire higher levels of trust than a bar of chocolate.
“But it won’t be easy for this sector to crack the top ten. When you find a banking brand that’s as straightforward as a slab of chocolate, please let me know!”
More about the Brand Trust Index™
The results of the Brand Trust Index research will initially be published each year in Brands & Branding and deliver well deserved recognition for 100 trusted brands while at the same time empower the buying public by revealing which brands are most trusted by a broad cross-section of South African consumers.
As some of the categories surveyed by Markinor (as part of the Top Brands survey) rotate every second year, the rankings will change according to what is included. This allows for a wider range of categories overall and avoids creating the impression of a single entrenched trust hierarchy.
The Markinor/Sunday Times Top Brands (Consumer) categories surveyed for 2007 were:
Results: 2007 Top 10 Trust Brands, with percentage comparisons to 2006 test data where available:
Results: 2007 Top 100 Trust Brands
More to come
Analysis and insights will be released on a monthly basis answering a myriad of Trust questions, such as are men or women more trusting and who or what do they trust? Are people with higher incomes more trusting? Or those living in rural areas? Does Shoprite enjoy more trust than Shoprite Checkers? Or Pick n’ Pay? Do people trust weekly newspapers more than Sunday editions? Are the SABC TV and Radio Channels trusted? Is Woolworths Clothing more trusted than Woolworths food? How much do we trust chocolates compared to banks and how do the trust levels of brands within a given category compare?
The Brands & Branding/Markinor Brand Trust IndexTM will provide an ongoing narrative on how much we trust brands, be they people, products, services or institutions.