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.
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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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