Why brand trust is particularly fragile during the holidays

by | Nov 27, 2017 | Public Relations

Retail expectations are ultra-high during the holiday season—and when brands let consumers down during this period, brand trust is more susceptible to long-term damage, according to new research from supply chain management firm LevaData.

The firm’s new report, 2017 Holiday Study, based on a survey conducted by Propeller Insights, explores the impact of managing the volatility of supply risks and opportunities on market performance and brand reputation.

A key research finding was that product delays affect brand trust—in general, but particularly around the holidays—and that Americans are willing to get creative to capitalize on post-holiday sales.

But there’s an exception that proves the rule: Respondents also indicated that they would endure quite a bit of inconvenience and personal hardship before putting plans on hold to order the new iPhone.

Product delays affect brand trust

Almost 1 in 4 Americans (23 percent) say their trust in a brand would suffer if they had to wait to buy something because a key component had been recalled, and 1 in 5 (20 percent) would buy the product from a competitor.

Brand trust seems particularly fragile around the holidays, when Americans report that, if a gift they were excited about purchasing became unavailable, they would:

  • Think the brand doesn’t plan well (32 percent)
  • Think the product is overhyped (16 percent)
  • Stop trusting the brand (10 percent)
  • Stop shopping at that company (9 percent)
  • Feel Christmas had been spoiled (9 percent)

Millennials especially felt Christmas would be spoiled (13 percent) and would stop trusting the brand (12 percent) if the gift they wanted to give became unavailable; in fact, a dramatic minority of them said they might also throw a tantrum (6 percent) or start a fight (5 percent).

“Expectations are high around the holidays,” said LevaData CEO Rajesh Kalidindi, in a news release. “Consumers need to rely on their favorite brands to have the products they need on the ready. To ensure brand loyalty and capture market opportunities, global enterprises need to improve the management of supply risks and margin opportunities.”

A very angry man expressing his anger, rage, and dissatisfaction by asking why.

Apple, however, gets a bit more leeway

Americans are so excited about the new iPhone that they would overcome a great deal of inconvenience—and adversity—to lay their hands on one. They wouldn’t let their plans to order a new iPhone be interrupted by a big delay in the ship date (19 percent), prices being higher than expected (18 percent), or bad reviews (17 percent).

What else wouldn’t stand in their way? Natural disaster (8 percent), economic collapse (7 percent), losing their job (7 percent), or a family emergency (5 percent).

Trust word lettering

Americans are willing to get creative to save

Saving money is a huge priority over the holidays. While 40 percent of Americans would be willing to give cash or gift certificates to take advantage of post-holiday promotions for gift giving, others are willing to get even more creative by:

  • Celebrating Christmas twice (25 percent)
  • Celebrating Christmas a week late (19 percent)
  • Faking a shipping delay (15 percent)
  • Hiding popular toys inside the store (11 percent)
  • Returning gifts after they’ve been opened (10 percent)
  • Spending the holidays without loved ones (8 percent)

Three percent of Americans would even be willing to lie to a child about what day is actually Christmas.

Likewise, 36 percent of Americans would return a gift and re-buy it if they paid full price for it before the holiday and it went on sale immediately after; another 31 percent would ask for a refund.

The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted on behalf of LevaData by Propeller Insights on October 12-16, 2017.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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