UVic report on consumer trust shows Vancouver's MEC top Canadian brand

A new B.C. report shows Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) as Canada’s most trusted branch, the only company based in the province to land in the top 10.

According to the Brand Trust Index published by University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business, MEC is one of two B.C.-based brands to finish atop of their respective industry/sector categories. The other is Invermere-based Kicking Horse Coffee (tops in the coffee/tea category)  - although the brand is now owned by Italian coffee giant Luigi Lavazza S.p.A.

MEC finished atop of the specialty retailers category.

Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business, said the results aren’t surprising on that front, given that retail brands have done well in recent years in the Brand Trust Index. MEC, for example, also held the top spot in 2019.

What is unique this year, Klein added, was the need to conduct two surveys for this years report: One during the normal survey period of January/February, another in March to gauge the change in public opinion since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Klein also noted that - while brands like MEC and Kicking Horse Coffee has done well in people’s responses - overall public trust in brands are on a clear downward trend, regardless of whether it’s pre- or post-COVID.

“Long before the coronavirus emerged, consumer trust in both institutions and large corporations had eroded,” he said in the report. “This year, in both surveys (post- and pre-COVID-19), Canadian trust in consumer brands is on the decline. In fact, this year's data shows that trust in brands is at an all-time low.”

But that actually means that “trust is more paramount now than it ever was” in order for brands to differentiate themselves and thrive in the new post-COVID economy, Klein noted. The report noted that companies with a clear representation of social values - demonstrated through proper treatment of employees and supporting social causes - have an advantage of gaining consumer trust in current times.

“Innovation contributes to trust, but not if it comes at • the expense of other values,” the report said. “… Organizations that demonstrate a good sense of concern for employees' well-being and empathize with the employees and their experience, build (or recover) and retain trust in their brands.”

The reports cites e-commerce giant Amazon, who has been plagued by recent stories of employees complaints, as a prime example of trust lost due to improper social value representation.

Other top trusted brands include the Canadian Automobile Association, Costco Wholesale, vacuum maker Dyson, Home Depot and Sony. 

The full report can be read at https://www.uvic.ca/gustavson/brandtrust/.