Why trust (not money) makes the world go round
Why does it become difficult for consumers to choose between big brands competing in the same market? Communication and trust is vital to building relationships, and loyalty with consumers….
“There’s so much to choose from…. I’m not sure how they are different… It’s hard to know how to choose, and who to trust”
This was what many parents told me of their shopping experience at The Baby Show, London Olympia, Where I recently exhibited with my Parent Perspectives Ltd ‘hat’ (and T-shirt). We were busy introducing parents to our website and community; helping them to discover their style of relating; develop their parenting strengths, and share their perspective to support others.
It’s about trust.
The transition to parenthood – and subsequent relationship with our children – is influenced by our own experiences of early relationships. We undergo a time of exceptional brain development in the first 18 months; our experiences of early caregiving relationships result in neural pathways that represent a blueprint for our expectations and trust in relationships right the way through to our adult life. If we have been fortunate enough to experience our early relationships as sensitive and available during times of stress, then the blueprint for our future relationships is one of innate trust: People can be relied upon. It is broad reaching. It impacts on how we experience and communicate our emotions for support.
Without significant change in our environment, these are the relationship or ‘attachment’ styles that we bring to all our other relationships, including our children. Research tells us that even with negative early experiences, if we can understand and create a coherent story of these relationships – including our resultant strengths and challenges – we open up opportunities for different experiences of relationships, and trust.
It’s about having a coherent story, and being able to share it.
Why is this important for business to understand? Well, when I heard parents talk about a loss of trust, it got me thinking…have brands also lost trust? Have they struggled to create a coherent story to share? How does this impact on consumer relationships and market share?
I mentioned earlier that trust and relationships remain stable whilst there is no significant change to our environment. The problem is that there has been a significant change in our environment:
The economic crisis has deteriorated trust throughout the system. Banks have reduced their lending; credit for SME’s is sparse, and cash flow is imperative.
Consequently, manufacturers need to create products that will be readily bought by distributors and retailers. Business attitude to risk has changed: It could be said that the risk of innovation is currently being replaced with the safety of brand stretch.
Consumers have less to spend. They are acutely aware of the importance of investing their money wisely. Brand trust is at once more imperative, but jeopardised by the potential dilution of brand values, caused by stretching.
So, what can we do to regain consumer trust?
1.Be human. In everything.
Parents need a high level of intimacy and emotional investment with a brand, if they are to make higher value, higher risk purchases. At the start of any relationship we need to know more about whom that person is, their values, what they believe in, and what we have in common with them. Brand relationship is the same. It needs connection.
2.Know (and live) your own story.
Every company needs to understand their own narrative: where they came from, what their values are and what they want to achieve. Having a good coherent story will give employees a sense of commitment and involvement. They will live and communicate the brand values for you.
3.Tell your story, and have others help you tell it.
Social Media is increasingly the most important platform to engage with consumers, and foster trust. A recent Forrester research report found that 70% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising. Add to that, an infographic from DiffusionPR – which Jo Middleton of Slummy Single Mummy blog kindly sent my way – and we find that as many as 40% of mums have purchased an item after reading an online post or review about it. Working with bloggers such as Jo (who has a twitter following of 35,222!) is a great way to have people tell your story, review your product, and help build trust in your brand.
4.Presence and transparency.
Your story needs a consistent online presence. The opportunity to co-create social storytelling means that consumers are not just engaged, but involved. You nurture trust, and a relationship that becomes resilient – even in the face of negative brand experience. A consistent online presence helps to respond immediately to negative experience – listen to it and be transparent about any failings. This can change what could become a complete loss of trust (with far reaching consequences) into a briefer lapse of confidence – something more easily rebuilt.
If there was ever a time to listen, reach out, and connect, it is now. If you need help discovering your story, developing your strengths, and sharing your perspective with others – you know where I am!
Dr. Fin Williams is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist, Businesswoman and a mother. She is founder of Parent Perspectives Ltd: A company dedicated to supporting parents to discover and develop their own way of parenting – without the manual. Fin is able bring together the voice of the online parent community, and her expertise in Child Development and Psychology, to work alongside businesses who are really serious about developing their products and brand to nurture better relationships and engagement with consumers. You can contact her through the website at www.parent-perspectives.com, or at firstname.lastname@example.org