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The Trust Equation

blogFebruary 5, 2019 By Dan Hagen

According to the iProspect 2018 Global Client Survey, 88% of marketers declare that trust is a priority in 2019. In a context where trust is in universal decline and people are paying less attention, brands need to adopt principles that respect, respond, and value the scarcity of a person’s time to build, nurture, or regain trust.


 Trust; the reason behind stability of global financial markets, the motivation for rise of political parties, the human trait that makes placebo drugs effective. Trust has always been the foundation for durable relationships, the power at play in the development of every positive aspect of our societies. 

The mechanics of trust are deeply complex, influenced by macro-factors like wealth[i], economic equality[ii], education[iii] and political stability[iv], but also by micro-factors, such as personal relationships or individual moral values. 

Despite unavoidable local variations, many sources report that trust tends to erode globally. This is particularly true for interpersonal trust (only one in four people say most people can be trusted[v]), trust in media (only 40% of people believe the news media does a good job in helping distinguish fact from fiction[vi]), trust in institutions (in the U.S., trust in Government fell by 59% since 1964[vii]) and trust in businesses (only 26% of people believe businesses are transparent in the use of their personal data.[viii])

With 70% of CMOs believing that securing long-term customer relationships is key to supporting business growth[ix], and 76% of marketers saying trust is important to keep consumers buying their brand[x], this erosion of trust is concerning. 

Therefore, it is logical that 88% of marketers will make trust a priority for their brand in 2019.  


Human attention has become a scarce commodity. With information overload intruding on our capacity to interpret, process and remember what we see and hear, it is no surprise to marketers that our attention has never been so fragmented. 

The evidence is hard to ignore: 62% of people from the 23 biggest economies admit they are constantly looking at screens[xi], Apple declares that iPhone owners unlock their phones 80 times a day on average[xii], and time spent on social media now exceeds 2 hours per day.[xiii]

Constant connectivity can be overwhelming for individuals and 57% of consumers believe the pace of technological change is too fast.[xiv]In only three years, the share of people saying they often feel overwhelmed by the many choices they have as consumers jumped from 49% to 59%.[xv]

For marketers, it means they need to address the following challenge: how brands can establish trust when people are paying less attention?



This fragmentation of attention combined with the climate of trust increases pressure on the advertising industry and is driving a renewed focus on truth, authenticity and responsibility. To build, nurture, or regain trust, brands need to adopt principles that respect, respond, and value the scarcity of a person’s time. 

In that context, it is not surprising that compelling consumer experiences are now particularly critical for marketers: according to our survey, 83% don’t believe brands will dominate over convenient experiences in the future and 62% say the quality of their purchase experience and after sales service will be a priority in 2019.

In Future Focus 2019: Searching for Trust we focus on managing growth with integrity. To explore the impact of digital on trust in an era of unprecedented disruption, and the implications for us all, iProspect has defined the Trust Equation.

Trust = C + R1+ R2


C = Credibility, i.e. the capacity to be perceived as competent and legitimate. In the attention economy, it is critical for brands to be clearly identified as sources of truth.

R1= Relevance, i.e. the capacity to resonate with consumers. In the attention economy, consumers expect individually tailored solutions, accessible when and where they want them. 

R2= Reliability, i.e. the capacity to provide an experience that consistently and conveniently meets customer expectation during every interaction with a brand. 

To discover how iProspect use the Trust Equation to analyse how brands can leverage digital marketing to deepen their relationship with consumers, download your copy of  Future Focus 2019: Searching for Trust.

The report includes exclusive interviews with global business and thought leaders including Mark Thompson (CEO and President, The New York Times Company), Armin Molavi (Interim VP Media, Hilton), Mark Cripps (Chief Marketing Officer, The Economist), Vanja Mlaco (Digital Growth Strategist, Transavia), Carrie Seifer (Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, IBM Watson and Weather), Laurent Tiersen (Country Marketing Manager, IKEA UK & Ireland), Jonathan Foster (Principal Experiences Manager, Microsoft), Antoine Dubois (SVP Marketing Global Strategy, AccorHotels), Rachel Zoe (CEO, Rachel Zoe Inc.).


[i] World Value Survey and Penn World Table, compiled by, 2014

[ii] World Value Survey for data on trust and World Bank for Gini index, compiled by, 2014

[iii] OECD, Education at a glance, November 2015, compiled by, 2014

[iv] World Development Report, Share reporting trust in people and index of civic engagement vs index of peaceful collective decision making, 2013, compiled by Ourworldindata. org, 2014

[v] Ipsos and BBC, A world divided?, April 2018

[vi] Reuters institute, Bias, Bullshit and Lies: Audience Perspectives on Low Trust in the Media, December 2017

[vii] Pew Research Centre, Public Trust in Government: 1958-2017, December 2017

[viii] Dentsu Aegis Network, Digital Society Index, February 2018

[ix] Dentsu Aegis Network, CMO survey 2018

[x] iProspect, iProspect 2018 Global Client Survey

[xi] Ipsos, Global Trends, October 2016

[xii] Techpinions, Apple’s Penchant for Consumer Security, April 2016

[xiii] GlobalWebIndex, Daily Time Spent on Social Networks Rises to Over 2 Hours, May 2017

[xiv] Dentsu Aegis Network, Digital Society Index, February 2018

[xv] Ipsos, Global Trends Survey, October 2016