(Image credit/Pixabay/Gerd Altmann)During the pandemic, consumers are looking to digital platforms for nearly every aspect of their lives. At the same time, trust in digital platforms is declining, according to a new study by the Intent Lab. The Lab is a research partnership between Performics and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications.

The Intent Lab has been tracking consumers’ satisfaction with digital experiences since Q2 2016, and trust is at the core. Consumer trust in digital experiences reached its lowest point in October 2018. Since October 2018, trust rose, but has now fallen again over the past 6 months.

Consumer satisfaction

Social media, eCommerce, gaming and video/audio streaming platforms are experiencing a surge in usage. However, consumers don’t always trust information from these platforms. Consumers rate Amazon as the most trusted platform, with Google and Apple following. Consumers most trust information from video platforms (53%), commerce (45%) and gaming (44%), with social media far behind (25%).

Esteban Ribero, Performics SVP of Planning and Insights. (Image credit/LinkinedIn/Esteban Ribero)
Esteban Ribero, Performics SVP of Planning and Insights.

“In crisis, trust can make it or break it for brands,” says Esteban Ribero, Performics SVP of Planning and Insights. “Over time, the Intent Lab has identified factors that make consumers trust or distrust brands, like protection of personal information, familiarity, adequacy of privacy practices, utility, quality of services or products, honesty, customer service and prevalence of misinformation.

Control and transparency

Control and transparency are key to boosting consumer trust in digital experiences, and respondents want the government to take action. The Intent Lab study found that people want more control over their information online:

  • 80% of consumers say they would like more control over their personal data online. But 1 in 5 said they would provide brands with personal information in exchange for a 50%+ discount.
  • 71% would like to see the government reform how companies treat their data. Three in four Gen X and Baby Boomers said want to see the government reform how companies treat consumer data. (vs. 64% of Millennials).

Ribero added, “The pandemic has accelerated consumer adoption and use of digital. This includes online commerce, apps, social media or streaming everything from movies to fitness classes. As consumer reliance on these platforms increases, trust is the critical factor in maintaining and growing this level of adoption. Most importantly, our study proves that brands must obtain permission to use consumer data and be transparent in how they use that data.

The Intent Lab research was fielded in March 2020 in the U.S and involved 1500 participants across the country.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business

This report appears to just re-enforce common sense ideas around establishing brand trust online. Last year, Oracle commissioned a report that suggested consumers will drop a brand after one bad experience. There are specific factors that can make consumers trust or distrust brands. Protection of personal information, no excessive request for private information, reliable, trustworthy information were all cited in the research as common reasons why consumers trust a brand. In addition to familiarity with the brand, good security measures and quality services or products.

The research indicates that since the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have started to buy new kinds of products such as Telehealth which grew by 683%. Consumers started to shop for essentials with grocery delivery rose by 400%. Inevitably, lockdown saw TV streaming rise by 50%. The fundamental issue will be whether these changes in consumer behaviour continues, as businesses and individuals navigate their way post-COVID.


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