Winning or losing customers is a matter of trust

Graphic illustration for Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC

For APAC businesses, the importance of building and maintaining trusted relationships with customers is as old as commerce itself. After all, how long can an organisation last if it doesn’t act with integrity and customers aren’t confident in consistently and reliably receiving what they’re promised?

Today, delivering on a brand promise that engenders trust is getting harder. Consumer expectations are shifting in lockstep with business and social norms, and the digital economy continues to redraw the customer experience map.

The new Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC confirms the emergence of a new trust paradigm. One where consumers expect far more of their brand experience in exchange for loyalty and spend. That almost nine in ten APAC leaders say the pandemic has made it harder to earn consumers' trust is telling of the widespread challenges businesses face.

As Simon Tate, Adobe President, Asia Pacific, explains, “APAC consumers’ experiences over the past two years and rise of the digital economy are combining to shift the fundamental drivers of brand trust. More than ever, trust relies on brands’ ability to make a positive impact, use data responsibly and deliver digital experiences on customers’ terms”.

The report also clearly shows what happens when brands win the confidence of their customers and the long-term consequences of losing it. By exploring the changing drivers, value and impact of trust, pathways for brands to capitalise begin to emerge.

The shifting sands of trust

It will not surprise APAC business leaders that consumers now expect more from their organisations than the fundamentals of quality products and services, convenience, or appropriate pricing. There are also increasingly prominent emotional drivers of purchasing behaviours that are shaping consumers’ perceptions of brands.

The most common is how brands behave when it comes to social, environmental and workplace issues. Consumers are vocal in their demands for authentic, purpose-led progress and in exchange, a social license to operate is conferred. According to the research, most APAC businesses say meeting these ever-changing expectations makes trust harder to earn - the most commonly cited challenge.

The next big challenge is keeping pace with digitally-savvy consumers, where APAC consumers are more likely to say digital experiences are more important than physical ones in building trust.

And as we transitioned from a world with digital to a digital-first world amid the pandemic, how customer data is used to enhance the customer experience has a significant bearing on trust.

“For APAC consumers, brand experiences that are personal, in line with consumer preferences, and delivered at the right time can amplify trust,” Simon says. “They recognise the role that technology can play to enhance these experiences. However, savvy digital consumers also know poor execution when they experience it and are conscious of the vital role their personal data plays.”

Trust as a value driver

The research confirms that the connection between brand trust and commercial outcomes is not lost on APAC executives. Indeed, 82 percent of leaders measure trust through financial performance, which comes in ahead of brand studies and participation in loyalty programs.

While not stated in the research, increasing trust could drive short-term financial performance such as a sales uplift or longer-term value across the lifecycle of a sticky customer. While the most suitable measure will vary by business type and industry, most APAC consumers do confirm an important factor - they will spend more with trusted brands.

Yet while consumers might reward businesses that gain their trust, the opposite occurs if it’s broken or breached. Two in three consumers across the Asia Pacific region say that if their trust is violated, they are likely to walk away from that brand forever.

Abstract illustration of a phone with a stat beside it: 2 in 3 APAC consumers will stop buying from a brand permanently if their trust is broken. Source: Adobe Trust Report 2022 APAC.

The research reveals that trust can be earned or broken with every experience and across every customer touchpoint. Trust can be amplified for brands that prioritise the digital experience, unlock consumer preferences, and adapt to new expectations of the brand experience.

On the other hand, rising challenges and low consumer tolerance for trust breaches highlight the two-sided consequences of today’s trust equation.

“The importance of digital experiences to a trust exchange has come into sharper focus, and the stakes are high. Done right, many consumers will reward brands with loyalty and spend. When trust is broken, most consumers will walk away permanently,” Simon added.

To better understand the trends influencing the trust between consumers and brands, get a full copy of the Adobe Trust Report 2022: APAC report.