The brands putting customer trust front and centre

As recent research from Adobe shows, 7 in 10 European customers are more likely to buy from a brand they trust, and half (49%) will not shop again with a brand they do not. We hear from the companies across the region who have put customer trust front and centre – and with great results.

For a long time, as marketers, we have heard that trust should go hand in hand with good customer experience. But how much does trust come into consumer purchasing decisions? Well, quite a lot actually – at least, that’s what our recent Future of Marketing research found. In fact, it revealed the brands who earn customer trust are rewarded by more sales, loyalty, and positive recommendations. According to the report, European consumers show they trust a brand by:

On the flip side, getting it wrong will cost you. The research found that businesses face losing a large portion of their customers if they do not prioritise trust: 70% of European consumers said they will stop purchasing from a company altogether if their trust is broken. Nearly half (49%), meanwhile, said they had stopped purchasing from a brand in the past year after a breach in trust. Younger generations are the least likely to forgive, with 74% of GenZ and 66% of Millennials leaving at least one brand due to a break of trust in the past 12 months.

What’s imperative to understand is, the way consumers see their data being used is at the heart of earning or losing this trust. Consumers are open to sharing information for more personalised experiences, but this use must come with permission (42%), openness and transparency (39%), and with a retention of control (37%).

As Julia Remmele, Manager Corporate Digital Solutions at MANN+HUMMEL puts it:

“I think trust is the foundation of every relationship we have. The worst thing you can do is create a set-up where customers mistrust your company, your brand and, in the end, your products. We’re transparent with the kind of data we need from our customers and why we need it. The reason behind needing a customer’s data is at the core of whether or not they’ll share it. Consumers will share information if they see a value-add for what they give. That balance is, for us, how you build trust.”

Dave Robinson, Head of Customer Engagement Development at Boots, added:

“Personalisation relies on great data and the willingness of your customers to share that data with you. That sharing is based on three things: trust that any data will be looked after, will be used wisely, and will be used only for the purpose intended.

“Boots has built a strong reputation over the 170+ years we have operated as a business. It means that our customers trust us to use their data well. But we’ll only keep that trust by looking after that data; and when customers share it with us, we’ll continue to be really clear on how it is being used. That’s such an important ingredient of personalisation.”

Of course, this trust can both be seen in brands making sure they’re giving customers a personalised experience – but also in showing that they will only use their data to contact them about something that’s necessary, or that they’ve opted in for. In fact, as Becky Franks, Head of UX & Optimisation at The Co-Operative Bank notes:

“By using data to underpin customer experiences, you can ensure those engagements are tailored and relevant to them. In that sense, using data is critical, but you must gain your customers’ trust. Our customers are incredibly important to the bank and we need to make sure that, whatever we’re doing, we are putting them first. That’s why we only use data that’s going to create really relevant experiences for our customers that improve their experiences with the bank.”

Center Parcs is also a great example of a brand that is using data to create personal omnichannel experiences, but also to be able to keep in contact and help them feel reassured over the past year:

It’s important for Center Parcs to align its online experience with the great physical experience it’s known for,” said Elena Ragone-Marriott, Head of Digital and Media at Center Parcs. “Having the trust of our guests at Center Parcs is hugely important. From research it is known that 70% of guests wouldn’t book if we broke that trust. During the pandemic we made sure that guests were placed at the forefront of all the decisions made, ensuring their safety, as well as our staff’s safety throughout. That meant sending timely communications to guests, with detailed information about the impact on their break and offering maximum flexibility including a reschedule-your-booking incentive and a book with confidence guarantee. When it came to communicating our re-opening and offering reassurance about our safety measures to stimulate new demand, we only used opted-in data, as we always do for marketing communications, to ensure we maintain that level of trust.”

Björn Schick, CTO at Smart, explained why getting it right is not only about customer trust and personalisation, but also means meeting regulations such as GDPR:

“For us at Smart, a personalised customer journey based on the behaviours of our customers is very important. Of course, as a result we need data that is managed under GDPR regulations. We have the CDC system in our eco-platform to manage the consent of the individual and customers. We take GDPR and data security seriously.”

So, there is a lot to consider here as marketers. Look at your strategy now and address whether you are doing all you can to gain customer trust when it comes to data. After all, if customers do not trust the brand they are buying from then, as our research proves, they are more than willing to walk away and take their money with them. To earn that trust, businesses have a responsibility to build more direct and personal relationships by using customer data better. That responsibility, ultimately, starts with marketing.

About the research

Adobe’s Future of Marketing research was conducted by Advanis during August 2021, surveying 6,000 consumers, marketing practitioners and marketing leaders (SVP or higher) globally, to better understand the practice of marketing and how its impact is evolving. In Europe 4,033 consumers (2,017 in the UK, 1,008 in France and 1,008 in Germany), 1,161 marketing practitioners (409 in UK, 414 in France and 338 in Germany) and 625 marketing leaders (SVP or higher – 181 in the UK, 196 in France and 248 in Germany) were surveyed.