consumers pointing at advertisement on computer

It’s not enough to just have brand loyalty anymore. Brands now need to do more to keep their consumers loyal — they need to have consumer trust. Millennials don’t trust regular advertising anymore, as it’s seen to be too promotional and not personal. Instead, consumers rely on word-of-mouth advertising through their friends, family, and the internet to guide them to the best purchasing decisions.

A few ways that companies can increase their consumer trust is to distribute reliable products, maintain constant communication between themselves and consumers through social media, and be accountable. 

Out of all the shopping that millennials do, 60% of it is done online. Online shopping can be risky, as consumers don’t get to see the product in-person before purchasing it. Return policies have become more easy to work with while online shopping, and retailers such as Amazon have made the process almost completely stress-free to encourage online purchases. But while these returns are easy, people would rather not have to deal with them in the first place.

Making reliable products is the key to that. Consumers want to know that the products they buy online are reliable before they actually hit “purchase.” However, how do they know if a product is reliable, when all they have is the opinion of the brand? The answer is customer reviews. By encouraging reviews and producing reliable products, companies can earn consumer trust. New consumers will trust the opinions of others who are unbiased before they trust the biased messages put out by the company.

Sometimes, a company that produces reliable products can make mistakes. In the case of recalls, a product that was once trusted becomes faulty. While the majority of recalls are for children’s products, almost any product can have a flaw that prompts a recall. When this happens, consumer trust is usually greatly affected. This just goes to show how important it is to produce reliable products. 

If a company’s reputation is tarnished as a result of a recall or scandal, they need to hold themselves accountable. While holding themselves accountable won’t immediately earn back consumers’ trust, it will at least help soften the reputation blow a little bit by showing consumers that they are taking responsibility. 

Most public relations professionals know about the Tylenol recall in 1982 where sealed Tylenol bottles were opened and replaced with cyanide-laced capsules leading to the death of multiple people. In this case, had Tylenol not taken responsibility and immediate action to prevent more harm and save the product, they would have lost all consumer trust. Instead, they took all the right actions and are still trusted in the eye of the consumer.

Constant communication between the brand and the consumer is also key to earning consumer trust. This communication should be upheld whether or not there is low consumer loyalty. Brands that engage on social media and respond to consumers inquiries will make them more personable, thus gathering more trust from consumers who know that the brand will respond.  In the case of reputation management, using social media to communicate updates and acknowledgments can also help earn back consumers’ trust.

Luckily, brands are starting to catch on to this new trend in brand development. Millennials’ purchasing patterns are different than consumers who are older, and they are forcing companies to adapt to their preferences.