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Build trust to build trial: Trustworthy channels can help

3 minute read | February 2022

A lasting effect of digitization and the pandemic has been the proliferation of consumer choice.  From being able to purchase cars and furniture online, to the pandemic’s effect of pushing more shopping into infinite virtual shelves, consumers are facing more options.  That vast choice and supply chain strain have affected brand loyalty to some degree, but not to the degree that you might think. And for marketers seeking to grow their brand through new customer acquisition, all that choice means a lot more competition for new buyers.

Though wooing new customers is a major focus for marketers, consumers are not inclined to start a relationship with a new brand. Research from Nielsen Commspoint Journey, which helps clients understand the attitudes, motivations and behaviors that lead to purchases, shows that 85% of consumer purchases in over 80 categories involved a brand the consumer had tried in the past. High levels of repeat purchasing might be expected in categories where buying behavior is highly routinized, and consumers are shopping on auto-pilot. But even in high-consideration categories, defined by purchase journeys that are typically longer than a week, hesitation with trying a new brand is still high. Nielsen data shows that in these high-consideration categories, 75% of consumers still buy from a brand they’ve bought in the past.

One possible explanation for high repeat purchasing is that for consumers, trying a new brand is a risky proposition, and consumers seek to avoid that risk. Commspoint Journey data shows that nearly one-quarter (22%) of U.S. consumers report feeling either worried or nervous during a purchase journey to buy a new brand. That’s double the level of anxiety consumers feel (11%) when they are re-purchasing a brand they’ve bought before. And unsurprisingly, consumers are more anxious in categories where cost is more of a factor, such as in tech, auto and financial services.

Brands can mitigate consumer hesitancy by building consumer trust. Trust is at the heart of any brand-consumer relationship, and is even more critical for new relationships. According to Nielsen Commspoint Journey data, people who are considering a new brand are 25% more likely than the average consumer to describe their ideal brand relationship as one that includes trust.

Consumers evaluate multiple sources of information along their purchase journeys to assess a brand’s trustworthiness. A brand’s reputation, reflected in reviews and word of mouth, certainly carries significant weight. Nielsen’s U.S. Trust in Advertising survey found these sources to be among the most trustworthy among more than 20 sources considered. But it might surprise marketers to know that ads are cited more often than reviews or recommendations as useful or influential resources along the journey. According to Commspoint Journey, just 18% of new brand triers recall using reviews in their journey. By comparison, 30% used recommendations and 45% say they found advertising useful or influential.

Given the critical role of advertising, marketers should give careful thought to where they place their ads. When building trust is at stake, our U.S. Trust in Advertising survey found that marketing investments like sponsorships, newspaper ads and ads before movies were the among most trustworthy.  In contrast, ads that appeared in mobile text, online banners or social media were viewed as less trustworthy. And Influencers, which blend elements of sponsorship and social, were seen as about average relative to other marketing investments.

Brands that have specific audiences they want to engage with would find media value in understanding which channels those audiences find most trustworthy. Gen X consumers, for example, are the most trusting of ads on the radio, while seniors are far more likely to trust ads from emails they subscribe to.

Choosing channels that increase the likelihood of building trust with consumers carries even more weight for certain categories and industries. Consumers trust political, pharmaceutical and financial services advertising the least, which means advertisers in these areas should choose marketing channels that are most likely to elicit consumer trust.

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