Trust is a tough thing to earn from consumers in America these days, so the winners in the recently announced 2023 BrandSpark Most Trusted Awards from market research firm BrandSpark International have all earned extra bragging rights this year.
Winners represent the annual list of the most trusted brands in America, which are determined by a survey of nearly 20,000 consumers, is the most extensive study of brand trust across consumer categories, examining 215 product and service categories. The annual awards began a decade ago with the realization that trust defines the relationship between brands and consumers in good times as well as more challenging times.
“As prices for consumer goods and services have increased substantially over the past number of years due to inflation and supply chain issues, consumers are much more likely to choose brands they trust the most to bring them great quality, service and value even when faced with less expensive alternatives,” said Robert Levy, president and CEO of BrandSpark, in a news release.
“We were very interested to see that major brand names have actually maintained their trust share notwithstanding increased competition from private label brands and other pricing challenges,” Levy added.
This year, the award expanded into the very competitive automotive segment, with categories ranging from windshield repair/replacement, won by Safelite AutoGlass; car battery, won by Diehard; motor oil won by Pennzoil; automotive floor mats, won by WeatherTech; and extended auto warranty (non-manufacturer), won by CarShield.
“Despite being an experience that roughly 84 percent of Americans have daily, many consumers have limited knowledge about automotive issues and needs, leading to low familiarity and weak trust scores for many brands in the space,” said Philip Scrutton, VP of shopper insights at BrandSpark, in the release. “We saw an opportunity to explore the automotive segment and help consumers identify the brands that other Americans trust.”
The brand trust/loyalty dichotomy
What makes trusted brands the most-shopped in a significant number of categories is the promise that they will deliver on quality and price—historically, the two most significant drivers of trust. While brand trust plays an integral role in purchase decisions, brand loyalty is more nuanced, which gives secondary and even tertiary brands the opportunity to win over new consumers.
Just because a brand is most trusted at a given moment does not mean that their top spot is necessarily secure. There are several avenues brands can take to build a foundation of trust with consumers which can result in taking trust share from the current trust leader.
“There is currently an opportunity for brands to attract new consumers with innovations that serve the needs brought about by the changing, more difficult economic landscape,” said Adam Bellisario, associate vice president of BrandSpark Most Trusted Awards, in the release. “If a consumer tries a new brand initially because of a promotion and that brand delivers on quality, a key driver of trust, the brand could have a new consumer for life.”
Some notable award winners
In technology and related services—a highly competitive category where trust is particularly important—two brands emerged as leaders: T-Mobile and Verizon tied for Most Trusted Cellular Service Provider. “We believe that these brands have an opportunity to prioritize building trust as part of their communications strategy,” said Levy.
Among the top 20 most trusted brands overall, PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble tied with two brands each with the highest trust shares (PepsiCo; Oatmeal: Quaker and Hummus: Sabra); (P&G; Dish Soap: Dawn and Women’s Shaving: Gillette Venus). Heritage brand Quaker scored the highest trust share and margin of trust in this year’s study. “It is surprising that so far no other real competitor has been able to challenge Quaker, leaving it with a substantial trust lead—however, we can anticipate potential competition from lower priced private label brands during the upcoming year,” says Levy.
Procter & Gamble had the most winning brands on the list (23, while Johnson & Johnson accounted for 9 wins in health & personal care, and PepsiCo was a 6-category winner in food & beverage.
The results are based on a national survey of 19,752 American shoppers who gave their top-of-mind, independent answers as to which brands they trust most and why in categories they have recently shopped.