August 11, 2007

In Brand We Trust

Trust me...

So which brands do you put your faith in to do what they promise?

The Reader's Digest Trusted Brands survey of 2007 doesn't throw up too many surprises (Most Trusted Mobile Phone: Nokia; Credit Card: Visa; Cereal: Kellogg's etc) but I was intrigued to see that the Most Trusted Petrol Retailer in the UK is not one of the traditional oil company giants but one behometh that has wandered in from another category entirely: Tesco!

How can a relatively new entrant outperform players with track records going back, in some cases, well over a century? We tend to think of trust as being something that builds up only over time (which is one reason why antique brands are so keen to parade founding dates and fathers in front of customers) but the evidence from customers in the UK suggests to me that petrol retailers there with significant heritage to draw on have seriously botched the whole issue of trust.

Tesco, which doesn't make any grand claims about quality and is often a convenience or price choice, has somehow managed to take the trust it's built up through its supermarket business and elbow its way to the front of the line at the petrol pump.

I can't see Kellogg's allowing a blow-in brand from another category the same opportunity. At the same time, Tesco's trumping of the category incumbents suggests that customer trust is more fragile than we imagine.

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