Why Trust Is More Important Now Than Ever Before

Sean T. Johnston

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Last month a journalist asked me what were the top three trends every business needed to know. My response was, “Trust, trust and trust—because if you don’t get that right—nothing else really matters.” This is a sentiment we began exploring in 2012 when we were pulling together our first annual collection of micro trends known as Looking Further With Ford.   “Trust is the New Black” speaks to the desire of consumers to engage with brands that are consistent, transparent and share the same values as the consumer. Traditionally, this has lent itself to sustainability matters or buy one/give one campaigns. In 2017, this trend has taken on a new dimension as consumers look to brands to take a stand on even broader matters. 


—Sheryl Connelly, Ford global trend and futuring manager


When Ford launched its inaugural trends report back in 2012, trust played a big role. “Trust is the new black” became the mantra for the belief that customers were more likely to purchase products from companies that they believed in.


Now, some four years later, the issue of trust is still very much at the forefront of the trends that are shaping consumer behavior.


We live in a world of fake news, where objective facts aren’t quite as black and white as they used to be. The world seems to be various shades of gray and your experiences and preconceptions can often influence what you believe to be truth.


The Oxford Dictionary has a term for it. In fact, “post-truth” was the International Word of the Year in 2016. It’s defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”


Today, over 7 in 10 adults in the United States believe that “finding information that’s objective and fact-based has never been more difficult.” It’s a problem that becomes even more perilous when you consider that most people—sixty-five percent of adults—agree that “people today are less likely to consider opposing viewpoints.”


People are less likely to believe facts. And the facts they do believe, as influenced by emotion and opinion as they may be, are not as easily challenged by opposing beliefs.


It’s a tough concept to grasp. One man’s facts are another man’s fiction. Down isn’t necessarily down. Wrong may not be wrong, depending on who you talk to. Today, nearly a quarter of people surveyed don’t agree that “truth is indisputable.”


Now how did we get here? Well, back in the 2012 trends report, Sheryl Connelly and her team wrote that sometime in the past few years the social contract – the implied agreement between individuals and organizations that governs their relationship – was broken. Somewhere along the way, organizations, companies, the media and the government lost the confidence of the people on a large scale.


The result is a situation where trustworthiness and integrity are more of a competitive advantage than ever before. People are much more likely to buy your product, whether you’re selling information, policies or cars, if they believe you.


Ford has been around for over 113 years. Trust is the cornerstone of that longevity. We believe that if you’re honest with folks and have their best interests in mind, they’ll come back to you. It’s a trend we’ve been a part of for over a century. A trend that will never go out of style.


Trust is just one of the many forces shaping our world today. To learn about the rest, check out the latest Ford Trends Report.

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