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Quality: The Other Name Of Brand Trust

Updated: April 2, 2011 12:48 pm


With companies struggling to keep ahead in the extremely competitive market, maintaining brand loyalty is the key to their success.

By S Roy

Before the 19th century, most people purchased goods from shopkeepers whom they knew personally. But, with the onset of mass migration into cities, large numbers of people suddenly found themselves without traditional bases for making decisions about consumer goods. Trust in brands emerged as the essence of engagement between consumers and the brand in the era of global competitiveness.

                How can trust rewrite the success story of brands in a complex business world where ethical practices are diminishing gradually? The Brand Trust Report, India Study, 2011 has the answer. According to the report, a brand only exists to create and maintain the primary bond of trust with all those who engage with it.


That is why Nokia, Finland’s global leader in mobile handsets, stands out as India’s Most Trusted Brand, which has won the trust of Indians. Tata was ranked second, followed by the Japanese electronics giant Sony at the third spot. The Korean duo of LG and Samsung secured the fourth and fifth positions respectively, while Reliance brand stood sixth. Maruti drove in at the seventh position, followed by the state insurance agency, LIC. Airtel, India’s largest telecom services company, dialed in at the ninth position, with Titan rounded up the tenth position.


Today, trust deficit exists for several reasons, known and unknown. How can trust be defined? Adi Godrej, Chairman, Godrej Industries Ltd. said, “Trust as a value evolved to being more about empathy, which helps the brand deliver powerful and innovative experiences to its consumers, and thus going beyond insights and products alone. Beyond legal rights, Godrej believes that the copyright of its brand is actually held by the millions of consumers, partners and employees in its ecosystem and is activated every time someone somewhere chooses Godrej.”


Marketing messages help build brand trust. Advertisements that deliver relevance, utility, information, and entertainment also facilitate regaining the consumers’ trust on brands. Since it takes time to build trust, it is generally believed that the global brands may prefer to enter new markets with emotional promises rather than with assurances of trustworthiness. But Nokia proved this wrong.

                Brands should be in the business of creating content, of creating a relationship with their customers. That is exactly what Nokia the connecting people brand did since entering into an extremely large and culturally diversified market 16 years back (1995). Nokia, being a foreign brand, has effectively made its mark among Indians by keeping in touch with the hand of its customers merely 16 hours a day! Shillpi Mondal of Garden Reach near Kolkata and her family use Nokia mobile. Trusting on the brand means quality at affordable price to her. “The handsets of Nokia are extremely hardy and the company delivers a good after sales services. It is the first company that launched mobile phone in Indian market. That is why I have always a better preference for this brand,” Shilpi said. Nokia got the first mover’s advantage to be the market leader.


Is the successful implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) one of the basic components for the global brands to win the heart of Indian consumers? Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, thus raised the point, “corporate social responsibility is not an option for brand trust, but it is essential. I urge India’s top corporate houses to recognise corporate altruism as an intrinsic component in the brand building process and treat this as a societal entrepreneurship venture rather than as a social responsibility.”

                America’s Consumer Electronics Association (CEA’s) Report, 2010 picked Nokia for the brand’s special commitment for society in three areas—target for reducing its greenhouse gas output, driving its suppliers to adopt environmental management systems and introducing Ovi Life Tools. For years, Tata group has been bringing together good people and good causes to mark a difference in many lives through developing areas like health, education, livelihoods, women-children welfare and many more. Land and water management initiatives undertaken by Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS) in Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh have helped farmers effectively overcome the twin problems of low yield and scarcity of water.

                But CSR is not the sole reason for brand trust. Rajesh Roy, an official from Panasonic India, believes that trust depend upon the quality of the product. “Company’s good corporate citizenship has no direct role on brand’s trust, but it definitely plays at the backside of their mind,” said Sony’s official. Even the financial performance of a company shares a very limited role in creating brand’s trust.

                Relying on the confidence and faith in one brand, consumers sometimes end up with risk and less expectations. As a result, the loss of confidence is followed by loss of trust. At the end of the day, consumers value for money. This is what Kishore Makwana felt who owns a handicraft shop. “To the Indian consumers, trusting a brand means good product at an affordable price as budget is the first priority when someone will buy a product,” he said.

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