Which brands held consumer trust during the pandemic?

The annual survey from Reader's Digest and Ipsos shows how much more critical trust has become.

Uncertain times only increase the critical role trust plays in consumer choice, according to data from this year’s iteration of an annual survey conducted by Reader’s Digest and Ipsos.

The survey, which asked respondents to consider brands in 33 product and service categories, found Canadians’ trust in companies was shaken by the pandemic, as 44% of respondents agreed it had fallen.

To recover that trust, action, transparency and communication are key: 86% of Canadians said they were more likely to trust companies who had taken clear steps to protect consumers from the virus.

Those same factors are vital for companies that are bouncing back after an outbreak, as 84% of respondents said they would be more likely to trust a company that communicates when a COVID-19 case is reported at a retail outlet, while 81% were more likely to trust a company that announces recalls.

Taking steps to win the trust of consumers is a difference maker, especially in crowded marketplaces and during challenging times. While price is the sole factor in a purchase decision for only half of consumers, 82% (up from 77% last year) said they would pay a bit more for a product from a brand they trust. Further, nine in ten said that when making a purchase decision between two more-or-less equal items, they would choose the product or service from the company they trust more.

Trust plays a crucial role in inspiring loyalty, with 84% of respondents saying they are very loyal to brands that have earned their support. That trust reaps further dividends when it comes to referrals, as 84% of respondents said they were more likely to recommend a product or service they trust to friends and family.

More than 4,000 votes were cast to determine Reader’s Digest’s Most Trusted Brands for 2021. This year’s “Platinum” winners – meaning brands that have been voted most trusted in their categories for ten or more years – are Kellogg’s for breakfast cereal, Toyota for both passenger and hybrid cars, Coppertone for sun care and Sun Life for life insurance.

This year’s “Gold” – selected in their categories for five to nine years – and “Platinum” winners can be found below, while the full list can be found on the Reader’s Digest website. New additions to the list this year include the most trusted meal kit and food delivery services – which went to Hello Fresh and Skip The Dishes, respectively.

Food and Beverage:
Breakfast Cereal: Kellog
Tea: Tetley
Bottled Water: Nestlé
Non-Dairy Beverage: Silk

Consumer Packaged Goods:
Sensitive Skin/Dry Skin Lotion: Aveeno
Interior Paint: Behr
Pet Food: Purina

Arthritis Pain Reliever: Tylenol
Headache Pain Reliever: Tylenol

Hybrid Car Manufacturer: Toyota
Passenger Car Manufacturer: Toyota

Life Insurance Company: Sun Life Financial

Pharmacy / Drug Store: Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix
Beauty Retailer: Sephora