Measuring Trust in the Starbucks Brand

A few months ago, I wrote an article for the Human Resource Management Association magazine, explaining the importance of trust in organizations and brands. The article drew on our recent study that explored the level of trust in 30 highly prominent brands:

“As a concept, trust has been shown to influence the effectiveness of leadership and the very function of an organization (including things like co-operation and effective working relationships). Try getting a staff member to remain loyal without trust, or convince a customer to buy without trust.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the article was a brand trust case study, highlighting trust metrics for two major coffee brands in Canada:

“When compared to Tim Hortons, Starbucks is facing significant trust issues. Across all six drivers of trust, Starbucks scored considerably lower than their direct competitor. By contrast, Tim Hortons is Canada’s most trusted brand and is reaping rewards that include positive word-of-mouth and loyalty.”

Above is a model from our research, illustrating how the six drivers of trust have influenced the competitive situation for these two brands.
Although over supply and the current economic environment may have contributed to the negative Starbucks situation, the brand experience also appears to be a factor. Our research has shown that brand trust and recommendation are key challenges for Starbucks in the Canadian coffee market.

For those of you who enjoy a more detailed read, here’s a full copy of the article that appeared in the HRMA quarterly magazine:

Interesting Vancouver: The Six Drivers of Trust

Back in October, we were invited to speak at a multi-disciplinary conference called Interesting Vancouver. The conference brought together an eclectic bunch of speakers, who shared their information and obsession on a range on topics. My personal favorite was Jer Thorp, Contributing Editor of Wired UK, whose presentation on infographics and aliens was hilarious (here’s a video link).

The topic of our presentation was trust, or more specifically, the psychology of trust. Using our brand trust research, we helped explain how trust builds for people, businesses and brands. If you’re interested in a 10-minute overview of trust, check out the following video:

Heavy Metal Gangs of Wadeye

Just watched an Australian documentary on 'heavy metal gangs' in the remote Aboriginal town of Wadeye. It's a pretty interesting look at culture and social identity; worth a watch if you have some spare time.

Episode One (25min):

Social Media: Online Body-Building?

Over the past year, we’ve been involved in a lot of qualitative research for clients including Dell and Intel. When studying technology motivations, it’s impossible not to explore people’s everyday behavior - and when it comes to their computer, people’s behavior is deeply personal.

Online body-building

One particularly interesting phenomena described by participants, was the process of ‘self-design’ that occurs in social media; we termed it body-building. Like a child playing dress-up, social media lets people re-design their identity in digital reality.

But unlike the fleeting nature of childhood games, social media can turn this fantasy into physical reality. Want to be popular? Craft yourself into a Facebook fashionista, and soon enough you’ll be invited to the catwalk. Want to be a marketing expert? Claim to be a social media maven, and soon you’ll be speaking at conferences.
The modern day dream factory
In morphological research, there’s a belief that society (within reason) permits people to pursue opportunities, or goals, that transcend their current capabilities. This drive for development and growth is a fundamental part of human motivation.

But what’s fascinating with body-building, is the extent to which digital society permits the ‘re-design of identity’. Social media is providing a mechanism for turning fantasy into reality; like adult dress-up, or a modern day dream factory.
Social media can re-design reality; with one click you can change your life.