Global PR firm Edelman Communications has released its 2017 Trust Barometer survey, revealing that among 33,000 individuals across 28 nations, trust in government, media, business and NGOs is at a universal all-time low.
Less than half said they trusted the media (43%) or government (41%), while NGOs (53%) have fallen to trust levels on a par with business (52%). In the GDP five (US, China, Japan, Germany and UK), trust in NGOs has even dipped below the 50% mark.
Crucially, among global respondents stating they are "uncertain" whether these institutions are working for them, business holds the highest trust score (58%). Brands have a lot of leverage with dissatisfied consumers, with three out of four survey participants also believing that businesses can improve both profits and economic and social conditions in the communities they interact with. Consumers expect responsible business from brands looking for continued support.
The public is also increasingly withdrawing into peer communication. For the first time ever, 'a person like yourself' is now considered as credible a source of information as an academic expert, and 55% say an individual is more believable than an institution. To stay in touch with this hyper-individual audience, marketers will have to build and maintain brands through community engagement from the ground up.
For more on engaging with consumers in the era of distrust, see Brands Take a Stand and Renegade Retail from our Currency of Dissent Macro Trend. For more on how to connect with anxious consumers, see our report on Playful Escapists.