Despite a drop in trust, technology can lead social change

Mark McGinn speaking at event

Written by Mark McGinn, Director of Brand and Social Purpose at Edelman

The past year has seen an almost universal decline in public trust for social media platforms – with a plummeting of trust in tech business regarding data protection and transparency. But Edelman says there is an opportunity for tech business to respond to ‘belief-driven’ buying.

The stark new findings on trust were presented at DigitalAgenda’s Power & Responsibility Summit – where trust played a major part in the discussions.

A few weeks ago I drew on the findings from Edelman’s 2018 ‘trust barometer’ and this month’s Edelman ‘earned brand’ research. Combined, the research is based on the opinions of 73,000 people living and working in 28 markets worldwide.

Technology remained the most trusted business sector, above healthcare, energy and food. But public trust is in transition, facing nothing short of a crisis, with a global battle for the truth itself. That battle for the truth is prompted by the fact that 7 in 10 people worry about false information or fake news being used as a weapon through social media.

Technology holds a privileged position of trust amongst the general public. But we are also seeing technology losing significant ground with the crisis of hacks and leaks.

In effect technology is no longer building trust. It’s living on its legacy and needs to start demonstrating how it can prove itself trustworthy.

The Edelman research looks at four key sectors: NGOs, business, government and media. Worryingly for media, it is now the least trusted institution, distrusted in 22 out of 28 markets, with focus on social platforms, rather than journalism.

Despite the tech industry remaining trusted, trust in technology has declined in 18 of 28 markets. In the UK, trust has dropped 5%. Informed public trust in tech has seen steep falls in 16 markets, including a 19% fall in the US.

Despite the stark headlines, the surveys showed some reason for optimism. Business generally was expected to lead, with 64% saying that company chief executives should take the lead on change, rather than waiting for government to impose it.

More than half of consumers are now driven by beliefs – with 57% now choosing, switching, avoiding or boycotting a brand based on its stand on societal issues. That figure was up 20% on 2017.

Define your purpose – take your stand. ‘Belief-driven buying’ is now mainstream around the world and that mindset now spans generations and income levels. Welcome to the new brand democracy. Around 39% of people agree that brands have better ideas for solving our country’s problems than government, and 47% think brands can do more to solve social ills than government.

A brand’s ‘stand’ on issues drives purchase intent, especially in the features a brand’s product reflects.

We have consumers who are telling companies that they believe they are a powerful force for change. They have consumers telling companies ‘I expect you to represent me in societal issues’. And there are people who are telling those same businesses ‘I will reward you; my vote will be my wallet, I will spend my time and my money with you for doing so’.

There is a role to be played for the tech for good out there to address these issues.

If you haven’t yet embraced this, listen carefully to the issues that people are raising about where we are and the world we are building. We must understand and define our purpose in how we can address these issues, because you will have a stronger enterprise from it.

Originally posted here

More thought leadership

Comments are closed.