By Josh Strutt
Associate Director – Deployment, Retail Doctor Group

“In any relationship, the essence of trust is not in its bind, but in its bond. So hold the hand of the person whom you love rather than expecting them to hold yours.” – Anonymous

With consumers now buying into brand experiences rather than individual retail channels, consumer trust has emerged as the currency you cannot trade. The strength of this currency has increased as fast as the world economy has stumbled. Therefore, it falls upon brands to create their own stable Trust Economies that will weather the rise and fall of the external local and global movements around them.

So just why has trust become so important to consumers and how do you, as a brand, build your own Trust Economy to secure loyal and profitable consumer relationships and advocates?

Consumers are literally ‘consuming’ all channels resulting in the erosion of universally valid rules, norms and values in society and creating a higher level of social diversification than ever before. Because of this, they have started to crave a sense of identity, continuity and community in their lives, which is being satisfied in part by trusted retail brands.

When we conducted our Global Trust Research in conjunction with the Ebeltoft Group of global retail experts, we uncovered the key drivers behind building brands’ own Trust Economies.  The research proved the value of trust as a currency and found that those identified as trusted brands increased their profitability and fostered their market position despite difficult economic times.

Our Global Trust Research found that the strongest driver of trust all over the world is reliability. No surprises. No deception.

Just the absolute fulfillment of consumers’ expectations every single time and the complete understanding that non-fulfillment is your biggest trust threat.  With this reliability and fulfillment comes brand advocacy and in this world where consumers trust the opinions of friends and family more than they do brands and manufacturers’; advocacy is critical.

To build a Trust Economy you need to look at every element that feeds into it. Fit retailers have a higher Trust Economy because they have executed a total omnichannel brand experience and learnt how to tactically offer across all these channels, in context, and also in a personalised way that speaks to the consumers that are present in each of their channels. It’s no surprise that our research identified the importance of store staff in the physical store space; however being weak in staff effort and contributions did not necessarily prevent brands from receiving good overall trust scores.

Fit retailers do deliver the most consistently amazing customer service as well as providing the channels that enable their customers to feedback and advocate them as well as finding the right and relevant reasons to drive them back in.

Other key findings from our Global Trust Research include:
  • Brand trust is driven by honesty, advertising credibility and customer orientation. In our world of incredible connectivity, brands are being punished more easily for dishonesty and inconsistent communications.
  • A lower price positioning makes it more difficult to win trust, but some manage to, primarily when developing and offering their own brands.
  • The higher the trust value the less important is the image of a retailer for the choice priority.
  • The higher the trust value the more the shoppers do excuse an unsatisfactory last shopping experience.
10 Tips to Building Trust and Advocacy
  1. Absolutely fulfill all customers’ expectations without exception.
  2. Communicate and make relevant offers to your consumers based on a profound understanding of them and their preferred channels.
  3. Genuinely care about your consumers.
  4. Build a unique, consistent and distinctive brand that your consumers love.
  5. Give your customers some trust credit, too! Create two-way trust such as a ‘no questions asked’ returns policy or the promise of money back if not satisfied.
  6. Empower and value your employees.
  7. Show your mission and passion internally and externally.
  8. Innovate and lead – keep abreast of consumer trends, explore different target markets and pursue new opportunities.
  9. Create a culture of trust in your multi-channel/ e-commerce offering.
  10. Have a genuine concern with ethics, environment and societal issues.


To build your own brand Trust Economy, start by setting the business reliability goals from the top to the bottom and measure them constantly against a pre-determined set of KPIs. Then, ensure this reliability flows through every aspect of the business including your own manufacturers and suppliers and instill it in your company DNA. This is the most fundamental aspect of business fitness. When this is in place, monitor your own trustworthiness and build your customer loyalty, advocacy and profitability.

Happy Fit Retailing

Our Deployment team can help you maximise the efficiency of your window displays to drive sales and conversions. For more on Retail Doctor Group’s retail consultant services driven by our “fit for business fitness™” programs, email or phone +61 2 9460 2882.