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: