Whilst this is an impossible question to quantify, we all accept that it is one of the most valuable intangible brand assets across any category or any market.
I would also argue that it is even more important in East Africa than it is in more developed markets. I think this is demonstrated by the relative lack of success that newly launched international brands have had in wrestling shares from established heritage brands across the region. You look around at different categories and there are many examples of local or perceived local brands, still managing to hold huge market share despite coming under sustained attack from a myriad of different international brands. For example – Tusker, Sportsman, Blueband, Safaricom.
One of the key reasons these brands have remained on top is because they have established an enormous amount of trust within the eye of the consumer through consistently delivering. When you consider how much they cost as a percentage of the average mans disposable income, then you can understand why consumers are loathed to take a leap of faith and move to a new brand offering that has not yet been able to establish that same level of trust.
So if you are launching a new brand within one of these markets how do you build that trust without the history or legacy? How do you convince the customer / consumer that you can deliver on your brand promise, without them relying on your word alone?
Below are some ways that you can establish trust in a relatively short space of time:
- Over-invest up front in building a relationship with your
customers / consumers. Building trust in a new brand is much like building a new friendship or relationship. You invest heavily early on with that person (new customer) with the highest regard for their feelings and what’s important to them. Show them that you will go above and beyond for them and that you care.
- Put yourself out there, be approachable and open. Ensure that you are available for dialogue with your customers through digital platforms. Ask for and value feedback and comments.
- Listen to your customers. Once they have provided feedback then ensure you act upon it. Use their feedback to better understand your audience and where necessary refine your offering or marketing mix. This not only ensures you are targeting better but also shows the customer that you are listening.
- Create platforms and opportunities for customers to share their customer testimonials. We all know how valuable personal recommendations are when it comes to future brand choice. So do great work with your early adopters and then give them the opportunity to share their thoughts through digital platforms. Produce case studies, which demonstrate your successes and share.
- Partner up with other brands, platforms, individuals that already have an established following and trust within your target audience. As a result you will get reflective trust applied to your brand.
- Establish yourself as thought leaders within your category. You don’t have to be the biggest in the category to be the leader. Produce and share content, which is informative about the industry. This both establishes industry credibility and provides a value add to your customers.
- Demonstrate a social conscience. Ensure your consumers / customers are aware of your socially responsible supply chain practices. Look at mutually beneficial CSR that directly impacts your target and publicise it.
But above all else ensure that you are authentic, honest and dependable, as trust can very quickly evaporate if you are not seen to be genuine in all that you do.