People more trusting of businesses, less trusting of peers

trust-barometerAfter a tumultuous year in which consumer faith in many institutions was shaken to the core, trust in business is rising year-over-year, notably in the U.S., according to the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer. In the U.S., trust in business jumped as much as 18 points, to 54 percent. But Edelman warns that this gain is tenuous—70 percent of consumers say business and financial companies will revert to old habits when the financial crisis is over.

Interestingly, while participation in social networks and platforms like Facebook and Twitter has zoomed, trust in peers has declined. According to Advertising Age, “The number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of information about a company dropped by almost half, from 45% to 25%, since 2008.”

“When you’re seeing so much noise, it’s very easy to dismiss a lot of it, and that’s a problem marketing messages have had for a while now,” 360i’s David Berkowitz told Ad Age, adding that “it can be overwhelming.”

Brands can play a clear role here by acting as a legitimate source of information, as long as it’s transparent and doesn’t come across as overly self-serving. This will also make the rise in trust less tenuous. For example, last year we cited a T-Mobile campaign that claimed “eight out of 10 people are unknowingly overpaying for their wireless service”; the wireless service provider directed Americans to a third-party Web site ( that evaluates a person’s calling needs against every national wireless plan.

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