Brands better step up during pandemic: Edelman Trust Barometer special

Consumers want brands to do what the government can’t, says the research.

A Nike coronavirus ad runs in London. (Photo credit: Getty Images).
A Nike coronavirus ad runs in London. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

NEW YORK: Consumers are expecting brands to help during the coronavirus pandemic, even to the point of losing money. And they will remember those that do not, according to an Edelman Trust Barometer special report released on Tuesday morning.

Ninety percent of respondents want brands to work with government and relief agencies and 50% say helping out is a must for earning or keeping their trust, the firm found after surveying 12,000 people in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. from March 23-26.

Eighty-nine percent said brands should make products to help with the crisis, and nine in 10 said companies should protect employee safety and well-being and "serve as a moral compass when it comes to getting people to take the virus seriously."

David Bersoff, SVP of global thought leadership research at Edelman Intelligence, said people are looking increasingly to brands to step in where government is seen as less than competent.

"They feel brands can often do more to solve problems than the government can," he explained. "They think brands have a bigger footprint and better ideas and are more likely to get things done, and this sentiment is now playing out in the harshest of conditions."

Bersoff said the survey shows that people will hold brands accountable for their actions: 52% of those asked said brands will have to protect people to earn or keep their trust, and 71% said the companies that prioritize profits over people will lose their trust forever.

The stakes are high for brands because people realize the situation is dire. Forty-five percent said they will not make it through the crisis without the help of private companies, and 62% said the country won't make it if brands don't play their part, Bersoff added.

"This really is an existential crisis," he said. "People are relying on brands in more and different ways than ever before."

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