Trust is an essential building block of brands. In fact, arguably it is the original driving force behind their creation. The ongoing success of a brand is tied strongly to its level of trust – maintaining and strengthening trust is the number 1 job for brand owners.
At its core, brand trust is a consumer view that they can rely on the brand to perform its stated function. While this is the essential foundation of brand trust, there is a lot more to it than this. Honesty, transparency, fairness and reputation are also key elements of building trust in a brand. In recent decades, these ‘higher order’ elements of trust have become more important, being driven by an increasing ability to identify and punish brands who do not act in accordance with their public value proposition or common decency.
The requirements of brand trust are set to become even more multi-faceted and consumer context is set to change again, with the coming age of consumer connected and smart devices (consumer IoT). Having already revolutionised living rooms and how we consume entertainment, smart and connected devices are set to impact consumers’ lives much more broadly.
Smart home management from the living room through to the kitchen and even laundry, are coming next and our research shows that 69% Australians already think this will have a significant impact on their lives. The true promise of this connected and smart future is not just a central control hub to lock and unlock doors or turn on the lights. It is also the AI-powered digital assistant that will anticipate needs based on the raft of data it collects, taking away the requirement for thought or action in managing everyday life. When this ecosystem is running well, it will automatically deliver milk when required and change phone plans to a more cost effective one as soon as usage dictates. However, consumers must be willing to exchange their data for this promise to be achieved. That is where the trust game is going to change for brands wanting to participate in this ecosystem.
Our research shows that concerns over privacy are one of the most significant barriers to IoT adoption at this stage. 44% of Australian consumers state that it is one of their key barriers to buying a smart or connected device – especially Digital Home Assistants such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. This is not just an issue for technology companies looking to transition consumers to smart home systems, but also points to a new element of trust that all players in the ecosystem are going to need to manage – no matter whether they are technology, FMCG or utility brands.
When people grant brands access to an even greater amount of personal data than we already do, how this is treated will become a key element of the brand trust. For some brands, especially FMCG, this will be an entirely new element of trust. For other brands, the breadth and depth of data capture will also increase significantly. The security of the data will be the minimum expectation. Breaches of this minimum standard will destroy trust in an instant, which can all too easily happen as we have seen recently with the ANU data beach. More than this, there will be expectations for the data to be used to enhance consumers’ experiences in a personalised, relevant and non-intrusive way.