Trust is essential to any successful relationship. Since consumers must part with cash or personal information in their relationships with brands, trust is especially important.
Yet trust takes time to build, starting small and growing over time. Therefore incumbent brands, with a large base of existing customers, heritage and mountains of social proof have a key advantage that challenger brands must overcome.
So what can young challenger brands do to win consumer trust even in their infancy? To find out, Attest recently surveyed 1,000 UK consumers.
1. Prioritise Product
Across all industries and demographics, ‘Good quality products/services’ is overwhelmingly ranked as the highest factor in securing trust (54%).
For over 50% of the population, trust cannot be engineered simply through great marketing. These consumers will only build trusting relationships with brands that deliver on their promise of great products and services. (A lesson learned the hard way by the very expensive, public implosion of Juicero.)
It’s only natural we’re attracted to brands we have positive memories of. Hence, brands that experience fulfilment and execution issues often have an uphill struggle to rebuild consumer trust.
The focus on quality products and services is great news for challenger brands. That they’re new to the market doesn’t rule them out of contention based on this criteria. In fact they frequently build superior-quality products and services, by innovating in ways traditional brands struggle with.
For example, we’ve seen the rapid rise of subscription services, prioritising the quality and ease of delivery that consumers crave. Providing a hassle-free and memorable experience directly contrasts with traditional delivery methods.
Just think of the beautifully designed packaging used by these consumer subscription deliveries, and the innovative designs they use to ensure the package gets through the letterbox, saving you a dreaded trip to the post office collection.
Accompanied by quality products, they’re rapidly securing a regular customer base who diligently pay their subscription bill every month, by simply improving one aspect of the supply chain.
2. Hipster or Heritage
Heritage, reputation and reliability blend together to make a very compelling case for trusting a brand; you know what you’re going to get.
This needn’t be bad news for young brands: heritage can be artfully woven into the narrative, while also embracing elements that add freshness and surprise to a well-proven formula.
Just 16 years old, Tyrells isn’t old enough to drink or drive yet. Despite this, the brand is a trusted household name, thought to be a traditional British product. Black and white photographs on its packaging literally add age. It’s a stroke of genius, designed to make consumers associate the brand with British history, thereby manufacturing heritage.
If a challenger brand wants to win trust among those aged 35 or older (needed to tip from ‘niche’ to ‘mainstream’ success), it’s worth noting that Attest’s research shows ‘well-established’ is crucial to establishing it.
Therefore, a marketing strategy that ties your brand to traditionalism, old-fashioned values or ‘Britishness’ can speed up the process of developing heritage, and win the trust of these consumers.
3. Social Salience
In Attest’s research, 7.4% of UK consumers named a brand they’d been using for less than one year as their most trusted, spelling a positive outlook for challenger brands; a significant minority are quick to trust.
What draws consumers to a new brand, and helps immediately earn their trust? As the numbers above show: strong environmental credentials, reliable payments, and clear terms and conditions.
For established incumbents that have had loyal customers for over five years, social issues drop out of the picture almost entirely; what’s more likely to keep consumer trust over time is the provision of quality products.
The takeaway? A progressive policy on environmental issues, payment options and data handling can assist challenger brands in winning consumer trust initially, giving the opportunity for this trust to then embed over time (through good-quality products and services).
When well-established brands experience a social, payments or data scandal, your challenger brand can be there to offer a trusted alternative for socially-minded consumers.
Toms is one company that built its USP around an ethical approach to business, and has experienced subsequent success since it was founded in 2006 as the ‘one-for-one’ company; giving one pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair bought.
The strategy a challenger brand takes for building trusting relationships with consumers is most wisely dictated by its target audience. It always pays to understand them properly, to craft a message that resonates.
For example, challenger brands targeting a younger audience can sing about their newness, innovation and social responsibility; while brands aiming at older generations are wiser to approach branding with the veneer of heritage.
For all challenger brands, though, the overwhelming focus must remain: develop high-quality products and services, to give consumers positive experiences and ensure repeat business.
Beth McGarrick is a content executive at Attest.