Environics gives the skinny on consumer trust

Quebecers and immigrants are more likely than other Canadians to trust companies, but their confidence still isn't very strong.

Note to businesses big and small: Canadians don’t trust you, much.

Pretty much every industry measured in the inaugural Environics Communications CanTrust Index was found to be untrustworthy by a pretty hefty portion of respondents.

Kudos to the broadcasting and streaming companies in Canada for topping the list, but they still only managed to win the trust of 44% of the individuals surveyed. Food retailers and banks didn’t do too badly, sitting close behind at 43% and 40%, respectively. Further down the list, online shopping companies (37%), telecommunications (35%), cable TV firms (35%) and pharmaceutical companies (34%), social media companies (26%) and energy, pipelines and resource companies (26%) tracked little trust from the Canadian consumer.

What’s interesting is that newcomers to Canada (those in the country for 15 years or less) and Quebecers are a less distrustful bunch than the rest of the country. According to the survey, 37% of the former group and 44% of the latter are confident in companies, while only 29% of the rest of Canadians say the same.

So how can a company build trust? The survey says they should help communities by investing in them and creating jobs, with 69% of respondents agreeing that this is the best way to gain their trust. They also want companies to provide enjoyable products and services (68%), have open and accessible leadership (67%), have Canadian ownership (64%) and give to local charities (56%). They also trust a company more if their leader uses social media (32%).

Bloggers seem to be getting better at being a source of trustworthy reviews and product recommendations. A similar study by Environics, back in 2010, found that only 10% of respondents used blogs as a source of information that would ultimately influence their purchasing decision. That number rose to 34% in this new survey. New Canadians, in particular, use blogs in this manner, with 43% of them saying they trust blogs as a source for recommendations.

Word-of-mouth recommendations are the most trusted, with 75% of consumers trusting someone they know before anything/anyone else. Direct sampling of a product or service is the next best way to convince a person to buy, 73% of consumers say. Just more than half of consumers (51%) follow consumer opinion or reviews posted online, while 55% trust editorial content .

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