Better Business Bureau: Trust in Biz Down in 13 of 15 Industries

August 25, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

CPG & FMCG | Financial Services | Real Estate | Retail & E-Commerce | Telecom

American consumers say in a seven-month period their trust in businesses has fallen in 13 of 15 industries measured, with an overall composite Index decline in consumer trust of 14%, according to the second BBB/Gallup Trust in Business Index survey (via Retailer Daily).

Moreover, nearly half (47%) of those surveyed say they have only “some, very little or no trust at all” in companies they do business with in everyday life.

Most-trusted industry grouping:


Least trusted are auto dealers and real estate brokers, but banks are quickly losing consumers’ trust, the Better Business Bureau said.

Least-trusted industry grouping:


“It is simply shocking that only 33% or less of Americans reports having a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot of trust’ in 11 of 15 industries measured in the survey,” said Steve Cole, president and CEO, Council of Better Business Bureaus.

From the first to second survey, nine industries had a 10% or more drop in the combined “A Great Deal of Trust” and “Quite a Lot a lot of Trust” grouping, including the following:

  • Auto Dealers : -19%
  • Real Estate Brokers: -19%
  • Department Stores: -16%
  • Gas Stations: -15%

Another nine industries experienced a greater than 10% increase in the combined “Very Little Trust” and “No Trust” grouping, including the following:

  • Home Improvement Stores: +33%
  • Banks, financial institutions and stock brokers: +30%
  • Department Stores: +27%
  • Gas Stations: +27%

Department Stores and Gas Stations ranked in the top four both in declines of “Most Trusted” and increases in “Least Trusted” groupings.

Only the Banks, Financial Institutions and Stock Brokers segment had a greater than 5% change in the actual percentage of consumer responses in both declines of “Most Trusted” and increases in “Least Trusted” groupings.

Asked what factors affect their trust in businesses:

  • 77% of consumers cited increasing prices of food, healthcare and energy as having major negative impacts.
  • 77% also said the actions of our nation’s most important companies affect the trust they have in businesses they deal with every day.

Asked what would strengthen their trust in businesses surveyed:

  • 86% of respondents said it would be “very” or “somewhat” helpful for businesses to allow credible third-party assessment of their performance.
  • In contrast, only 58% said having government more actively involved in regulating performance would be “very” or “somewhat” helpful.

Demographic data shows consumers with no college education drove down trust levels in seven of 15 industries.

As for gender, women specifically cited declining trust in Home Improvement and Department Stores, whereas men noted low degrees of trust in Pharmacies and Drug Stores, and Banks, Financial Institutions and Stock Brokers.

About the findings: The survey and Index, which measure consumer trust in businesses that they regularly deal with, were commissioned by BBB and conducted by Gallup. The first BBB/Gallup Trust in Business survey was conducted in September 2007; the second in April 2008, fielded March 26 to April 20, 2008 and including 1,003 respondents 18 and older, randomly selected from across the US. Consumers were asked to indicate their degree of trust in businesses using six categories: A Great Deal of Trust, Quite a Lot of Trust, Some Trust, Very Little Trust, No Trust or Don’t Know.

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