Trust in business and government plunges in the US but is strong in the rest of the world

Trust in business and government has risen globally, except for in the USA, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer, which measures trust and credibility globally.

To me, three findings jump out as interesting:

1. Trust rises everywhere except the US

Trust in business rose by two points on last year globally. It rose significantly in Brazil and Germany and remained steady in China, India and the UK.

In the US, however, trust dropped across all institutions, which include business, government, NGOs and media. The Trust composite score, which measures the average trust rating across all four institutions put Americans’ trust fourth bottom in the world. The Irish have the lowest trust – unsurprising given recent events there – and the UK and Russia scored jointly at second bottom – also unsurprising. The most surprising is the US score, given that only three years ago its Trust score was in the top four.

2. Emerging economies trust each other

Globally, trust in companies with their headquarters based in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries rose, particularly among fellow emerging economies.

Trust in companies headquartered in Brazil doubled in respondents from the United Arab Emirates, rising to 65 percent. In Brazil, 62 per cent said they trusted Russian-headquartered companies, a 23-point increase over last year. Indian-based companies enjoyed a widespread increase in trust, shooting up by 17 points in Brazil, 15 points in Indonesia, and 13 points in each Japan, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates.

“There has been little image improvement in the West in trust in BRIC-headquartered companies, but the BRIC business strategy to focus on emerging economies appears to be paying off,” said Mr. Edelman.

3. Corporate reputation matters to consumers

In the last 12 months, 85 per cent of respondents said they had bought products or services of a company they trusted. Conversely, 73 percent said they refused to buy products or services from one they did not trust.

According to the 5,075 people surveyed in 23 countries, the most important corporate reputation factors are: quality products, trust (ranked 1 in UK), transparency and employee welfare. The company’s financial performance is tied at the bottom of 10 factors.

“More than 75 percent of stakeholders want business to create shareholder value in a way that aligns with society’s interests, even if that means sacrificing shareholder value,” said Mr. Edelman.

Read more:

Edelman, Trust Plunges in the US While Resilient Across the Globe, 25 January 2011


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