Two thirds of Canadians feel that free-from claims are a way for companies to charge more.

The current precarious political climate in the US seems to have American consumers divided. Only 18% of US consumers agree most Americans share their values and just over a quarter have confidence that the country will start to unite. Canadians, on the other hand, appear more unified, as just 15% feel their values differ from others.

Despite this difference in perception of shared values among fellow countrymen, it’s safe to say that consumers from both countries exhibit trust issues when it comes to the brands and services they buy. For example, both Canadians and Americans are skeptical when it comes to product claims, specifically brand labels and health claims found on food and/or beverage packaging. For example, two thirds of Canadians feel that free-from claims are just a way for companies to charge more for products. Brands that provide a look into how products are made and where ingredients come from, potentially with online videos, smart labels or even Snap Stories, may be viewed as more transparent and trustworthy, as noted in Mintel’s 2018 Global Food and Drink Trend ‘Full Disclosure.’

Connecting with consumers personally by taking a stand

Over half of US consumers say they avoid brands they believe act unethically.

Companies have a limited amount of time to connect with consumers. According to the American Marketing Association, the average consumer is exposed to over 10,000 brand messages a day and consumers switch screens up to 21 times per hour. So, finding ways to attract consumers’ attention—and trust—in a manner that makes a longer lasting impression, whether from an advertisement or packaging, is crucial. As highlighted in Mintel’s 2018 North America Consumer Trend ‘Trust Funding,’ brands that take a stand, whether on one side of a key issue or through demonstrating values that consumers can connect with, may capture consumers’ consideration and confidence. Over half of US consumers say they avoid brands they believe act unethically and that they expect brands to be a force for positive change.

In November 2017, game-maker Cards Against Humanity bought a piece of vacant land on the Mexican and US border to make it more difficult for a wall to be built. Earlier in 2017, Ikea Canada debuted a 90-second ad showing a range of vignettes that reflect its support of diversity in the community including scenes of a refugee family, a boy painting his nails, and a same sex couple getting ready to go to prom. These slightly more political stands should resonate on a deeper level with their core customers, potentially making the brands more memorable and appealing.

Brands can also demonstrate values appreciated by consumers by aligning their products to a particular cause. SoulFull, a subsidiary of Campbell Soup, has made its goal to help end hunger in the US. For every serving of hot cereal that a consumer buys, SoulFull donates one serving of its 4 grain cereal product to a food bank located in that shopper’s neighborhood. Bell Canada’s long-standing Let’s Talk Day campaign raises awareness of mental health issues. Since 2010, the company has been donating five cents for every qualifying text, call, tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view, and Snapchat geofilter and in January 2017, the campaign garnered a total of over 131 million messages and raised over $6 million CAD.

What we think

Ultimately, trust is a factor that will draw both American and Canadian consumers to a brand’s products and services. While exhibiting transparency and integrity with facts and origin stories may help convince consumers of a company’s trustworthiness, it is becoming increasingly important for marketers to invest in new ways to foster trust from an ever skeptical consumer base. Brands that act as agents for change by aligning with values or missions that are more personal to them and their consumer base, such as promoting diversity or raising awareness of mental health, may lead to greater brand awareness, engagement, and trust among core consumers.

Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries. She incorporates her background in advertising and brand tracking to deliver actionable insights. Carol holds a Master of Arts in Sociology, specializing in Canadian Ethnic Relations from the University of Calgary.

Michael Averbook is a Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, specializing in the CPG food and drink industry. He is responsible for writing monthly analysis reports providing strategic insight and consultancy across several food and drink categories.

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