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The internet has led to a democratisation of knowledge, fuelling the innate curiosity of consumers around the globe; just look at the number of ‘How To…’ videos available on YouTube, and Wikipedia has a website WikiHow which is dedicated to ‘trying to help everyone on the planet learn how to do anything’. Answers to life’s questions, no matter how big or small, really can be answered with the help of a smartphone or laptop.

…Or can they? There is a lot of ‘psuedo-science’; these new claims, positions and ideas are constantly being challenged, questioned and scrutinised. Take for example the recent ‘news’ that may have made its way to you virally “Cheers to that! Drinking wine before bed can boost weight loss” (The Sun). Within hours the findings of the study by the University of Washington were being disputed and counter headlines emerged such as “How a glass of wine before bed wreaks havoc with your sleep” (Daily Mail). Maybe you also saw recent headlines stating that eating red meat is associated with increased risk of bowel cancer – followed by articles questioning whether this is actually the case.   

So, maybe it isn’t surprising that, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, two thirds of countries can be considered “distrusters” – based on the average level of trust in government, business, media and NGOs. And there are mounting levels of distrust of other people too; whilst 40% of baby boomers agree with the statement “generally speaking, most people can be trusted”, this drops to 37% among Gen X and falls off a cliff among Gen Y, 19% of whom agree.

How can we expect to build strong relationships with consumers if they do not trust us?

The good news is that there is a solution to this. Being transparent with consumers can go a long way towards gaining their trust. The devil really is in the detail (sorry for the cliché!); consumers increasingly expect to be given the minutiae and to be allowed to form their own opinions. Detailed information needs to be delivered to consumers in a clear, balanced way.

Is your organisation doing all it can to give your consumers the full story? Are you serving their curiosity? Do your consumers consider you to be trustworthy and accountable?

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