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Study: Gustavson Brand Trust Index

The University of Victoria Gustavson School of Business has released its 2021 Gustavson Brand Trust Index. The annual study seeks to measure the relationships between consumer trust, brand advocacy and “authenticity.” According to the study, consumer trust in brands is linked to a belief that the brand reflects their values. Furthermore, previously trusted brands including Amazon, Whole Foods, Air Canada and Tesla have dropped in the rankings. According to the study, consumers feel these companies' values are no longer aligned with their own. According to the report, over the past year Canadian consumers have shown an “acute awareness” of whether a brand is “truly compassionate” in its activities, or whether their acts of compassion are opportunistic. The study also finds that younger consumers are less trusting than older consumers. In addition, trust in media is at an “all-time low,” with social media brands among the least trusted in the index.

“More than ever, CEOs are being viewed as societal leaders entrusted to take a stand on social issues, from climate change to addressing racial injustice,” said Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “As the world climbs out of the pandemic, brand awareness is no longer the currency of business. Consumer trust is the priority. There is a need for companies to rethink how they are driving positive societal change. Trust in key institutions, in society and in business, has been eroding over the past few years. Consumers are more conscious of brand values and whether leaders can manage their companies in ethical, transparent and authentic ways that benefit both people and the planet.”

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