83% of consumers rate ethics as a trust builder

behave ethically and build the trust that builds loyalty

This is the last of 10 ‘BEST OF THOUGHTS’ from the more than 200 THOUGHTS published in 2018.

Given the findings of the Royal Commission into the banking sector, this is surely the right time to discuss the importance of ethics in business. This is the second in a series of five thoughts addressing ethics in business and in marketing.

A great deal has been written over recent years about the death of brand loyalty. For some brands, loyalty is very much alive and well, however, others are finding it to be a real challenge. One of the key drivers of loyalty is, of course, trust. In the main, consumers are only loyal to brands they trust.

Research in the United States found that 83% of consumers rate ethical behaviour as a key determinant of trust. By extension, therefore, ethical behaviour is a key driver of brand loyalty. Ethical behaviour is, for the majority of consumers, a contributing factor to their loyalty to a brand and, therefore, their propensity to repeat purchase.

This same research found that ‘transparency’ is central to demonstrating that an organisation is ethical and can be trusted. Businesses that are not deemed to be transparent are not seen as being either ethical or trustworthy. This finding does not bode well for many financial institutions in Australia.

Marketing behaviours considered unethical by the majority of consumers include:

  • Surrogate advertising
  • Exaggerated advertising
  • Puffery in advertising
  • Unverified claims
  • Stereotyping groups
  • False comparisons

Most of the behaviours considered unethical involve a lack of transparency and honesty. None are necessary, and all can inhibit trust and impact brand loyalty.

It is also important to note that it is not unethical behaviour that damages brand loyalty, but the perception of it. This suggests that businesses should behave ethically and demonstrate that they are ethical.
Ethical behaviour includes:

  • Transparency and accountability
  • Fair payment and trading conduct


Place the very highest priority on ethics. It is good for business… and good for the soul. It will also help you attract and get the best out of the very best staff.

For now, PUT YOUR FEET UP and think of something other than business.


Mintel, Entrepreneurs, Forbes, Choice and WordSteam.
This is the last THOUGHT for 2018. We will be back on January 14 with an all new look and an all new series of thought for 2019. Thank you for reading in 2018. I hope you enjoy the festive season. All the very best for 2019.

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