How has the pandemic shaped trust in brands?

The annual ranking of most-trusted brands from Reader's Digest and Ipsos shows what changed during another year of COVID-19.

Canadians are reassessing their spending habits amid yet another year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that – coupled with brand trust – is influencing their purchase decisions, according to data from an annual survey conducted by Reader’s Digest and Ipsos.

In fact, a little more than half of Canadians (54%) said they made purchases this past year solely based on the price of the item they’re buying, a significant increase over the previous year. The price factor is also impacting the value of trust which, while still important to a majority of Canadians (79%), is less important than it was last year.

Still, 92% of respondents said that all else being equal, they will opt to buy a product or service they trust more. This shift in values can be of benefit to brands, as those that offer money-back guarantees enjoy a greater degree of trust from 86% of respondents.

Those companies and brands that engender trust continue to reap the benefits, with 90% of consumers saying it’s important to them to trust the companies they support and 88% saying they pay more attention to those companies that they do trust. Further, 84% of respondents say they’re very loyal to brands and companies that they do support.

When it comes to referrals, 84% say they tend to recommend products and services from companies that they trust. Further, nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers say they trust third-party recognition of products and services, such as awards and seals of excellence, and 66% say they trust online customer reviews or ratings..

While trust has been impacted by the pandemic – 42% agree their trust in products and services has declined – a company’s confidence in its product or service is a factor in engendering trust for 92% of respondents. Accountability is equally important, as 78% say they’re more likely to trust companies that announce product recalls.

A sample of 4,000 Canadians over the age of 18, including 1,017 French-speaking respondents, were polled by Ipsos on behalf of Reader’s Digest between Aug. 13 and 31, 2021.

That survey was also used to determine its Most Trusted Brands of 2022 across various categories. The Platinum winners – brands that have been voted most trusted in their categories for ten or more years – are Coppertone for sun care product, Shoppers Drug Mart for pharmacy, Sun Life for life insurance company, Toyota for both hybrid car and passenger car manufacturer, and Tylenol for headache pain reliever.

This year’s gold and platinum winners are listed below. Additional winners can be found on Reader’s Digest’s website.

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

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

Arthritis Pain Relief: Tylenol
Headache Pain Relief: Tylenol
Sun Care Product: Coppertone

Hybrid Car Manufacturer: Toyota
Passenger Car Manufacturer: Toyota

Life Insurance Company: Sun Life Financial

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