According to Morning Consult’s first annual State of Brand Trust report, more than half of Americans say they have little or no trust in corporate America and the country’s leadership. In fact, Tom Hanks (34%) and Oprah (27%) are more trusted than either the US government (7%) or Wall Street (5%).
Fifty-four percent of consumers say they have little or no trust in corporations, while only 28% hold the same for the food and beverage industry.
But they do place conviction in brands like Cheerios, Oreos and Doritos.
Raising the bar
The ranking was determined by an average of 16,700 interviews per brand for almost 2,000 brands – making it the largest study of its kind to-date.
Questions focused on topics ranging from product sourcing, quality and safety to employee treatment and data protection.
The report – powered by Brand Intelligence, which is relied on by a wide range of Fortune 500 companies to understand consumer perception – sets a new benchmark for gauging brand trust and outlines how generational divides will shape the future of consumer culture.
The top five spots of the overall 25 Most Trusted Brands in America were claimed by the US Postal Service, Amazon, Google, Pay Pal and The Weather Channel.
The most trusted food brand was Chick-fil-A – ranking in sixth position – followed by Hershey in seventh spot, and Cheerios and M&Ms, No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
However, despite the high level of trust placed in food and beverage brands, the industry does have its work cut out for it, as only 17% of Americans say they trust food labels. A higher number (26%) place credence on scientific studies.
Breaking it down
Survey respondents were asked ‘how much do you trust each brand to do what is right?’ and could respond ‘a lot’, ‘some’, ‘not much’, ‘not at all’ or ‘don’t know’. Ranking was determined by the share of ‘a lot’ responses.
Breaking down the generations discovered different trust levels.
Gen Zs placed the most trust in tech companies like Google, Netflix and Amazon, but also snack brands like Kit Kat (No. 16), Cheerios and Oreos (both No. 21) and Doritos (No. 23).
Millennials also placed weight on Google and Amazon, but regard Cheerios more trustworthy (No. 10), along with Doritos (No. 19) and Hershey (No. 20). Oreos were slightly down in 24th spot.
Kellogg’s (No. 16) and Betty Crocker (No. 20) popped up on the radar of Gen Xs, while Baby Boomers added General Mills into their 23rd ranking, after Kellogg’s (No. 12) and Betty Crocker (No. 19).
Cheerios came in 12th for Gen Xs, while the older generation really like the brand, placing it in fifth position.
“While brand trust is relatively strong today, there is a generational challenge facing brands in the future,” wrote the report authors.
“Younger consumers are generally more skeptical of corporate America and hold higher ethical standards for brands.”