NZ Customers’ Perceptions of Brand Trust and Trusted Brand Endorsements
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The purpose of this research is to understand NZ customers’ perceptions of brand trust and trusted brand endorsements. Reader’s Digest (RD) is a U.S. based magazine with one of the highest monthly circulation of any periodical across the globe (Augustyn, n.d.). It annually endorses “trusted brands” for several countries including New Zealand. Whittaker’s, a local NZ brand, best known for manufacturing chocolates, has been endorsed as the most trusted brand in NZ across all categories for eight successive years by RD. Several questions arise like: How do consumers perceive trust? Do brands perceive trust in a similar manner as their customers? Are brands really able to win the trust as claimed by the endorsements? How do the customers perceive the agencies that make the endorsements? Thus, this study was undertaken to investigate customers’ perceptions of “brand trust” and “trusted brand endorsements”. This thesis seeks to study brand trust and trusted brand endorsements by performing a qualitative analysis of customers’ experiences, expectations, and perceptions of those two concepts. The qualitative data is obtained through three focus group interviews and thematic analysis is used to identify key themes and to draw inferences from the data corpus. The study reveals that the length of familiarity and experience of the customers with the brands is an important factor that determines the customers’ trust in brands. It is similar to some extent, to the trust among family members. It is noted that the participants in the study watched the sincerity and commitment of brands in following ethical business practices, the brands’ reputation, their consistency, transparency, and the spirit of innovation for determining the extent of trust they should place in these brands. This research study concludes with recommendations for further examination of the difference in perception of trust among participants of various age groups and for examining whether trust can indeed be endorsed.