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Digital Transformation

Nearly Half of U.S. Consumers Have Lost Trust in a Brand This Past Year

Quick take: 48% of U.S. consumers say misuse of their personal information has caused them to lose trust in a brand during the pandemic. Salesforce Global Innovation Evangelist Brian Solis shares survey findings and insights for nurturing customer relationships post-pandemic.


Consumers are ready to spend as the pandemic wanes — both the data and a trip to any public place make that clear. But, something is holding them back; something more personal in this digital-first world. 

In a recent Salesforce survey, nearly half of U.S. consumers say misuse of their personal information has caused them to lose trust in a brand during the pandemic, and 50% say it has been difficult to trust brands since the pandemic began. This is exactly the wrong time to lose trust and the right time to earn trustworthiness. 

With a gap between consumers eager to spend and those who are also comfortable engaging deeply with the brands they’re buying from, the question becomes, “how can brands learn to build trust and long-term relationships with consumers in a post-pandemic era?” 

New insights point to first-party data paired with great customer experiences as critical. 

Since pandemic’s onset, consumers struggle to regain trust

COVID-19 has accelerated digital interactions; in fact, Salesforce Commerce Cloud supported over 3 million transactions a day in 2020 — up more than 100% YoY. This comes with opportunities to grow with new audiences. But it also comes with challenges. Digital transformation, poorly handled, can mean a greater chance for issues like gaps in customer service and misuse of personal information like data breaches and hyper-targeted marketing.

Leveraging direct and in-person consumer interactions can help 

Gathering data through direct interactions with customers is one way to build trust post-pandemic, according to the data. It’s a chance to demonstrate digital empathy, to show customers that their data is being used to deliver better, more personal experiences. And as the physical and digital worlds merge, collecting data through  in-person customer interactions can positively build trust between brands and consumers. As the trust divide widens, giving consumers autonomy over their personal information could provide the foundation for strong brand relationships.

Offer incentives, loyalty programs, and give back to strengthen relationships

There are concrete steps brands can take to build stronger relationships with their customers — especially as we see younger generations hungry to deepen their connections with companies.

actions that have a positive impact on customer brand relationships
Actions that have a positive impact on customer/brand relationships

Regulated industries hold more trust in the eyes of the consumer

Recent data shows too, which industries are leading with strong brand relationships among the U.S. consumer base. Industry playbooks are going to be more important now than ever before as industries continue to learn from one another in how to deliver trusted experiences to their customers.

industries most effective at building strong brand relationships
Industries most effective at building strong brand relationships

Strong brand relationships encompass many different factors, but one large factor in building these connections is undoubtedly trust. Highly regulated industries like Healthcare, Transportation & Hospitality and Financial Services have laid the groundwork for trusted protection of personal information.

industries most trusted by consumers
Industries most trusted by consumers

Survey methodology

Salesforce conducted a double-blind online survey of consumers in the United States. Data was collected between May 20 and May 25, 2021 and yielded 627 responses.