Trust has taken on greater importance during the pandemic: Most Trusted Brand study

The pandemic has added an additional layer of complexity for brands vying for consumer attention against a “dizzying” number of competitors, says the latest iteration of Ipsos’ annual “Most Trusted Brands” survey, conducted on behalf of Reader’s Digest.

“In this context, trust is nearly always what settles the decision for Canadians looking to buy something new,” said Ipsos’ Canadian vice-president Sean Simpson in an overview of the study, which found that 92% of respondents agree (40% strongly and 52% somewhat) that when a product or service’s quality and price are similar, they tend to purchase from the company they trust more.

Trust can affect multiple consumer interactions with a company across multiple dimensions, with a majority of respondents indicating they’d be more willing to work for a company they trust (93%); more likely to recommend a product or service (89%, including 31% strongly); and be more willing to pay slightly more (82%, including 24% strongly). While only half of respondents admitted to buying items based solely on price, the research found that a “strong majority” of consumers (86%) are more likely to trust a company that offers a money-back guarantee.

The survey results are based on online interviews with 4,001 Canadians 18+ (including 1,000 French-speaking respondents) conducted by the Ipsos I-Say panel between Aug. 19 and Sept. 3. The results are considered accurate within plus or minus 1.8% 19 times out of 20.

Consumer trust in products and services has been “severely tested” by the pandemic, said Ipsos, with 44% of respondents agreeing that their overall trust declined. “The past year has seen Canadians experience product shortages, delivery delays, and safety concerns, forcing many to rethink the way they interact with the brands and businesses they rely on,” said Simpson. “A trusted brand implies a product, service or business that Canadians know they can rely on in times of uncertainty: safe, dependable, effective.”

Brands that are able to clearly communicate how they’re addressing the pandemic—including communicating when a potential safety risk occurs—have the best chance at rebuilding consumer trust, said Ispos. More than 80% of respondents said they are likely to trust a company that publicly reveals when a COVID case has been reported at one of its outlets.

The study ranks the most trusted Canadian brands across 33 product and service categories, with Ipsos saying that the most trusted brands must receive a “statistically significant” higher number of mentions on an open-ended basis than category competitors to be crowned the most trusted within a specific category.

The list also includes platinum winners that have been voted the most trusted in their category for 10 or more years, including Toyota in both the passenger car and hybrid car manufacturer categories; SunLife in the life insurance category; Coppertone in the sun care product category and Kellogg’s in breakfast cereal.

The gold winners, brands that been deemed most trusted for five to nine consecutive years, are Aveeno in the sensitive skin/dry skin category; Behr in the interior paint category; Nestlé Pure Life in the bottled water category; Purina in pet food; Sephora in beauty retailer; Shoppers Drug Mart in pharmacy/drug store; Silk in non-dairy beverage; Tetley in tea; and Tylenol in both the headache and arthritis pain reliever categories.

Among this year’s winning brands:

Food and Beverage:

Tea: Tetley

Bottled water: Nestlé

Sparkling water: Perrier

Non-dairy beverage: Silk

Consumer packaged goods

Disinfectant: Lysol

Sensitive skin/dry skin lotion: Aveeno

Pads/liners: Always

Incontinence product: Depend

Interior paint: Behr

Exterior stain: Behr

Pet Food: Purina


Food delivery service: Skip the Dishes

Meal kit delivery service: Hello Fresh

Cash-back rebate company: Rakuten

Grill: Weber

Pharmacy/drug store: Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix

Beauty Retailer: Sephora


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Chris Powell