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2021 Edelman Trust Barometer Reveals Brand Leaders Expected to Take Lead on Social Issues Each year, global communications firm Edelman releases its Trust Barometer — a survey-driven report of how trusted governments, NGOs, businesses, and media are around the world. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer draws on survey responses from 33,000 individuals in 28 countries. It reveals insights about both the general population (ages 18+) and informed public (college-educated, ages 25-64, in the top 25% of household income in their country’s age group). This year’s Edelman Trust Barometer notably uncovers a growing distrust of government in the U.S. and China, and increased expectations for business leaders. Here are 10 key takeaways for brands, marketers, and advertisers: Business is more trusted than government, NGOs, and media in 18 of 27 countries surveyed. Community organizations, local leaders, and scientists are more trusted than government leaders, religious leaders, journalists, and CEOs. CEO credibility has dramatically declined in India, Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina, Russia, France, and Japan during the past year. Trust in search engines, traditional media, owned media, and social media has declined. People are placing more importance on information literacy. 68% of those surveyed believe CEOs should step in when the government does not fix societal problems. 66% think CEOs should take the lead on change rather than waiting for the government to impose change on them. 65% believe CEOs should hold themselves accountable to the public and not just to the board of directors or stockholders. 86% expect CEOs to speak out publicly about one or more of these societal changes: pandemic impact, job automation, societal issues, and local community issues. 68% agree that consumers should have the power to force corporations to change. So what does this mean for your brand? With consumer trust in business and expectations for brand leaders steadily rising, it is essential that you understand how to build trust with your audience. Read on to learn how you can inspire confidence and loyalty among your current and potential customers. Get involved with grassroots organizations that your community cares about. Partner with local non-profits, small businesses, and community leaders to engage with social causes that matter to your audience. Make sure you’re reaching out to organizations and influencers who can authentically connect with your brand. For example, during International Women’s Month, AMP helped create PUMA’s “Do You” campaign, which sparks conversation around female empowerment. The campaign features professional basketball player Skylar Diggins-Smith and New York City Ballet principal dancer Lauren Lovette, athletes who volunteer with programs that uplift young women. When you have a great brand-cause and brand-influencer fit like this, authenticity is sure to follow. Invest in influencer partnerships. According to Business Insider, brands are projected to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. And that’s no surprise given that 1 in 5 Gen Zers and millennials in the U.S. and UK makes purchases inspired by influencer or celebrity social media posts, as evidenced by a 2019 survey from GlobalWebIndex. Influencer partnerships are so much more than the stereotypical pastel aesthetics and travel photos we often associate them with. They are powerful resources that can humanize a brand and give your company access to a devoted, loyal fanbase. And fortunately, influencers are not one size fits all. Smaller companies might consider micro influencers (1K to 100K followers) or nano-influencers (under 1K followers), who have the power to attract niche audiences on a lower budget. You don’t need a Hadid sister to make a splash in this industry! Be transparent and hold your brand accountable. It is no longer enough for brands to exclusively talk about their products and services. Consumers want to know that the companies they buy from have values that resonate with their own. In fact, up to 83% of millennials say it’s important to them to buy from companies that align with their beliefs and values, per the 5W PR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report. When you’re planning your marketing strategy for the 2021-2022 year, consider how and where your brand might appropriately express its values. Which social media platforms are your customers most present on? Which current events are they following? Keep in mind that what matters to the average Gen Z customer may be different from what the average baby boomer cares about. Research and relevancy are essential. Diversify your workforce. Representation among brand leadership teams has been a hot topic this past year. A new Instagram account called True Colors highlights the lack of diversity among top brand leadership by re-imagining logos based on the whiteness of their leadership teams. Beyond enriching your brand with new ideas, skills, and perspectives, diversifying your workforce can also improve your standing with consumers. In fact, 38% of consumers are more likely to trust brands that do well with showing diversity in their ads, according to a 2019 Adobe research report. Creating nuanced, inclusive representation in your marketing requires diverse leadership and supporting teams. Consider who your audience is and who is creating their ads. It may take time to increase diversity among your brand’s teams, but it’s an effort well worth making. Click here to discover more insights from the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. And remember, with great brand, comes great responsibility.