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From influencing consumer purchases to building long-term brand equity, brand trust is recognized as a key focus in driving growth through marketing strategy among CMOs and agencies. As international brands struggle to compete against APAC consumers’ growing loyalty for homegrown brands, the savviest are turning to digital solutions to gain a competitive edge by using technology to build long-lasting trust among customers.

Why does brand trust matter?

Seemingly intangible, brand trust is an invaluable asset to your business.

Brands with above average levels of trust from consumers have grown their brand value by an average of 170% since 2006, compared with brands with below average trust which have seen a 13% decline in brand value (source: Kantar TNS).

Brand trust is key for converting consumers to purchase: it’s a deciding factor for 81% of consumers when they consider a purchase (source: Edelman Trust), closely behind quality (85%) and value (84%) and significantly ahead of customer experience (55%).

While the concept and the roadmap to getting there may seem ambiguous, brand trust is especially key for international brands looking to gain loyalty among APAC, consumers given the trend towards increasing loyalty to home brands. 41% APAC consumers trust global brands compared with 59% of APAC consumers who trust local brands. In Japan, this figure jumps to 89% of trust in local brands, and even traditionally wary Chinese consumers have seen trust in local brands soar almost 200% from 2015 to 58% trust in local brands.

To secure trust from consumers, international brands will need to ensure that at a minimum they deliver on their promise to consumers, whether that promise is value for money, excellent customer service or respecting their right to data privacy.

Brands should see themselves as data custodians, not data vultures

Convincing consumers that you are a data custodian, not a data vulture, is an important first step in gaining trust from APAC consumers. Customer data, at its core, is about building meaningful relationships with consumers through a better understanding of their needs and wants.

While the pressure is on for companies to deliver increasingly personalised experience for consumers, the risks of breaching data privacy laws and undermining consumer trust are higher than ever. Data protection movements, such as China’s Personal Information Security Specification which came into effect in May 2018, indicate a shift towards a privacy framework on par with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Despite being non-binding, the standard is still referenced by law enforcement agencies and is currently under a consultation that would require a more sophisticated approach to data consent. The outcome would have data protection consent divided into two categories, depending on whether the consent was within the scope of the receiving the goods/services or whether the consent was for marketing purposes.

In Japan, although 38% of consumers don’t mind brands using their data for personalisation, over 70% of consumers stated that they will stop purchasing from a brand that sends them unpleasant personalized content. Brands must therefore adopt a sensitive approach in how they handle data privacy.

As marketers leverage technologies such as data mining or AI-powered personalisation, a solid data protection framework is now indispensable for reassuring customers that their privacy is upheld and respected. In instances where brands employ service providers to manage their data, they need to take appropriate measures to ensure that the service provider respects applicable data protection laws. A good service provider would have already taken the precautionary measures to ensure that its systems and workflows uphold the best practices of data privacy and can advise you on the measures you need to take to respect the applicable privacy frameworks.

Brands should focus marketing messages on values that resonate with APAC consumers

Technology allows brands to hone and magnify their marketing messages across different owned channels: data is an enabler. Thanks to marketing automation and CRM systems, data allows brands to reach consumers on their preferred channels at scale, with engaging content that is relevant and feels personalised to each consumer.

Repeated contact at key touchpoints is crucial in building brand trust: in one study 87% of respondents stated they had strong trust in a brand after seeing the brand across six different touchpoints, compared with 13% who had strong trust in a brand after seeing it once (source: Edelman). Effective data-driven marketing will identify the touchpoints that have the biggest impact on different consumer groups and personalize these interactions at scale. Having a good data analytics team with the right skills, such as data wrangling and subject matter expertise, is therefore crucial in accelerating consumer trust in your brand.

This is especially important among APAC consumers who are the most likely to switch brands compared to their North American and European counterparts: 47% consumers in the region are willing to switch to new brands. Brands which benefit from consumer trust also benefit from higher loyalty: their consumers are more than twice as likely to stay loyal compared with brands with average trust. Brands should use both consumer data and social intelligence to identify the values or needs that matter most to consumers.

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Technology can also help leverage the power of communities around a brand. Consumers are more likely to trust earned media, such as influencer posts or consumer reviews, than they are owned media. Amplifying community messages across social media with User-Generated Content is a key strategy for brands looking to retain and engage consumers by establishing trust.

About the Author


Manuela leads the Marketing division at IMS, advising clients on branding and market positioning in both Europe and Asia.

Prior to joining IMS, Manuela worked in financial regulation and compliance. Past experiences include representing France in roundtable discussions in Brussels for the European Venture Capital Fund (EuVECA) Regulation.

She obtained her LL.B (Hons) at UCL before graduating from Sciences-Po, Paris, with a Master’s in Financial Regulation.

Connect with Manuela Burki on LinkedIn

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