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Hackernoon logoBuilding Your Consumer's Trust As A Direct-To-Customer Brand [A How-To Guide] by@gagupta

Building Your Consumer's Trust As A Direct-To-Customer Brand [A How-To Guide]

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@gaguptaGaurav Gupta

That much closer to ikigai

A recent Deloitte Insights report talks about embedding trust in the Covid-19 recovery phase, in a world dealing with severe trust deficit. Edelman's Trust Barometer 2020 report talks about how none of the four pillars of government, business, NGOs and media are trusted, in competence or ethics or a combination of both.

The Edelman report also talks about technology as a sector dropping 4 ranks in the survey, as compared to 2019. Trust in the online world is on the decline, thanks to the tsunami of fake news.

In such circumstances, how do Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands build trust with their consumers in a predominantly digital world?

Interestingly, trust in institutions like banks is declining. Instead, trust is getting distributed.

Let’s rewind a little bit, and begin with the question What is trust? I find Rachel Botsman’s definition of trust convincing as well as precise-

"Trust is a confident relationship with the unknown"

When your product or service convinces the consumer to be confident enough to make the leap from the known (present) to the unknown (future), she reposes her trust in your brand.

Think Airbnb. Instead of the standardised and reliable service of a hotel chain like the Holiday Inn, you are opting to stay at a stranger’s home! Why would you do that? Because you trust Airbnb.

How do you build trust? Building trust is not about being transparent. Trust does not happen in a snap.

You build trust by climbing the trust stack

Building trust requires time because building trust is about climbing the trust stack. Climbing the trust stack is a three-step job:

1. Build trust in the idea

2. Build trust in platforms

3. Build trust in other people

Some of you might have seen the viral video of an elderly lady’s first ride in a Tesla. The sheer discomfort of riding a self-driven car shows the need for brands and products to first build trust in the new idea or product.

To do so, it is crucial to peg the new idea to something that the consumer is already familiar with. The new idea needs to be familiar for the consumer to make the trust leap. The first step in climbing the trust stack is to build trust in the idea by pegging it to something familiar for the consumer.

The second step in the trust stack is to build trust in the platform. Usually, platforms are looked at from the lens of demand-supply aggregation. To build trust, platforms need to be social facilitators. Airbnb is an excellent example of a platform designed as a “reputation system” to build trust. Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of Airbnb, talks about how the Airbnb platform works to remove the stranger-danger bias via “metered’ information disclosure between the guest and the property owner, step by step.

The third step in the trust stack is to build trust in other people. In our day to day lives, we often ask “Do I trust this person?” To build trust, this question should be answered with another question — “Trust this person to do what?” In order to build trust in other people, it is necessary to differentiate between trust (noun) and trustworthy (adjective).

The network of people we trust expands when we know that the other person is trustworthy. Being trustworthy is about:

1. How you do something? (Competence & reliability)

2. Why you do something? (Empathy & integrity)

Does your brand answer the questions above, precisely? How competent is your brand to solve the consumer’s problem? How reliably does it solve the problem, time after time? Is your brand authentic? How much does your brand care/empathise with the problem that it promises to solve?

End note: This write-up is influenced by my interpretation of Rachel Botsman’s book Who Can You Trust?, and some of the author’s talks


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