Edelman study finds trust in business is rising in US

NEW YORK: Trust in American business is on the upswing, despite the past year of recession and corporate scandals, according to a new Edelman study, revealed at the World Economic Forum's conference on trust.

NEW YORK: Trust in American business is on the upswing, despite the past year of recession and corporate scandals, according to a new Edelman study, revealed at the World Economic Forum's conference on trust.

At the same time, trust in government is falling from its post-September 11 high, while trust in NGOs is on the upswing.

Trust in US business rose from 41% in June 2002 to 48% in January 2003, found the agency's fourth semi-annual survey of trust and credibility.

"There is more a crisis of confidence in the leadership of big business than in the institution of big business in the US," said Steve Lombardo, president of StrategyOne, an Edelman division which conducted the survey.

Trust in US government fell from 48% in winter 2001 to 39% this winter. "Trust in government had nowhere to go but down after September 11," Lombardo said.

The survey found different views in Europe. Trust in government there was at 26% in winter 2001, and 25% this winter. European trust in business fell from 43% last summer to 35% in the latest survey.

NGOs such as Greenpeace rated the most trusted group in Europe, although even their trust score fell from 51% last winter to 42% last summer. It has since risen slightly to 45%.

Trust in NGOs is rising in the US, moving from 41% last winter to 49% this winter, after a slight dip to 38% in the summer 2002 survey.

"These groups are perceived as not having an interest," said Lombardo.

"We've seen the rise of NGOs in the US that has rivaled the growth in Europe."

Not having an agenda apparently resonates with the opinion leaders Edelman surveyed. That may help explain why advertising rated so poorly.

Only 12% of US respondents said they believe information in ads more than they believe information they see in news articles. In Europe, only 9% believe ad information more.

US respondents were asked how credible they felt various sources of information are, and they rated articles in business magazines the most credible, while placing product and corporate ads at the bottom of the list.

"Traditional sources of credibility have been called into question," said Hollis Rafkin-Sax, Edelman's global MD for financial communications.

American CEOs have an opportunity to rebuild trust with consumers by "engaging with all their constituencies," she said.

Companies should be using PR to build their corporate reputations even in this down economy, she added. Eight out of 10 US survey respondents said a company's reputation plays a large part in their opinions about that its products or services.

Added Lombardo: "Corporate advertising today is bad, it's poor, it's not doing the job."

The industries that are most trusted in the US are consumer packaged goods, durable goods, and, surprisingly, technology.

Americans still believe in technology, so "companies that were able to withstand the tsunami that hit that industry will excel."

Edelman surveyed 400 people in the US, all college-educated with a household income of $75,000 or the equivalent, and 450 people in Europe.

MATTERS OF TRUST

I believe information from articles more than advertisements

UNITED STATES (%) EUROPE (%)

86 83

How much do you trust each to do the right thing?

UNITED STATES (%) EUROPE (%)

Business 48 35

NGOs 49 45

Government 39 25

Media 28 32

How much to do you trust each of these?

UNITED STATES (%) EUROPE (%)

Company you work for 71 57

Local corporations 55 49

Large national corporations 39 36

Global corporations 31 28

Trade unions 26 25

MOST TRUSTED BRANDS

UNITED STATES (%) EUROPE (%)

Johnson & Johnson 69 Amnesty Intl. 62

Coca-Cola 66 World Wildlife Fund 62

Microsoft 59 Greenpeace 51

Ford 56 Oxfam 49

McDonald's 55 Microsoft 47

Source: Edelman Trust & Credibility Survey.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.