5 quick and painful ways to lose customer trust

Brand trust is a top consideration for consumers. In fact, 81% of consumers surveyed said the ability to ‘trust the brand to do what is right’ is a deal-breaker or deciding factor when making a brand buying decision.

Nowadays, consumers have more reasons than ever to question their trust in brands. It’s not just about product quality any more. It’s about how brands handle customer data, how they impact society and the environment, and whether their values align with the consumer’s. And with social media making it virtually impossible to hide, well, anything, brand reputations can be damaged at the click of a button.

It’s never been so easy to lose customer trust.

But how to do it? Here are 5 simple suggestions:

1. Be careless with customer data

Customer data is invaluable. Not just for targeting your market, but for shaping your product. The appeal of Netflix is not the oceans of content; it’s the way Netflix uses your preferences to narrow down that ocean into more manageable recommendations. We like this: in fact, 60% of EU consumers are willing to share more data to receive personalised benefits and discounts**.

And yet with big data comes big responsibility. GDPR wasn’t a one-off project; it’s an ongoing obligation to treat personal data with respect. The reputational damage of a data breach has been shown again and again. And while it may be possible to recover, it will certainly be expensive.

2. Be creepy with customer data

You may have heard the anecdote of the father who stormed into Target, incensed that his high-school daughter had been targeted with maternity offers and coupons – only to call a few days later to apologise as it turned out she was, in fact, pregnant. Target realised it could use customer data to target pregnant people - a potentially lucrative new customer base - but it didn't stop to think if it should.

3. Play fast and loose with product claims

Fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar predicts that in 2020 the beauty industry will see 'a fight against misleading information in beauty with demand for full transparency from brands'. Mintel^ backs this up, stating that 'Mistrust of "clean" and "green" labels will see consumers scrutinise ingredient lists and question product efficacy'.

4. Ignore consumers' sustainability concerns

The heightened concerns mentioned above don't stop at ingredients - ethical standards down the whole supply chain will be under scrutiny. 9 out of 10 consumers feel that companies/brands have a responsibility to take care of the planet and its people.^^ It's not enough to 'do the right thing' - you need to show consumers that you're doing it. Transparency is key.

5. Ignore the rules of influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is ALL about trust. The most effective social media influencers have carefully built a relationship with their followers by sharing quality, relevant content. Engage an influencer to endorse your brand, without being fully transparent about your relationship with them, and that consumer's trust - both in the influencer and in the brand - is gone in an instant. Consumers are becoming more savvy to the workings of influencer marketing: nearly half would like to see stricter regulations, and 63% feel that influencer content takes advantage of impressionable audiences.˚ So make sure you know exactly what you need to disclose - and how.


*2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?

**A new era for privacy: GDPR six months on (Deloitte)

^2030 Global Beauty and Personal Care Trends 2030 (Mintel)

^^The New Sustainability: Regeneration (JWT)

˚Consumers in the UK, Germany and France. Influencer Fatigue and Consumer Confidence (Bazaarvoice with Morar Research).

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