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[New Identity Survey] How the election affected consumer trust in brands

By Bryta Schulz | Posted on December 22, 2016

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For all the controversy generated by the 2016 presidential election, a recent Janrain survey reveals that regardless of which candidate they supported, consumers aren’t all that different when it comes to attitudes toward brand messages:

They simply don’t trust them.

According to our survey, Trump voters’ distrust of the “political establishment” extends to the commercial sector as well — 56% say they only trust the information that comes from businesses “some of the time.” However, that still trails the 64% of Clinton backers who feel the same way. Even worse, 25% of Clinton supporters and 20% of Trump proponents say they “hardly ever” trust a brand at all.

Here is a sample of more findings:

Growing distrust of ‘information’ may affect reception of brand messages

News media came under fire from both political parties for a wide variety of slights, real or perceived, for their coverage of 2016 electoral issues. It turns out this suspicion extends beyond politics.

  • Thirty-nine percent of Trump supporters “hardly ever” trust brand messages filtered through a news outlet.
  • Clinton supporters are nearly a quarter less likely to write off a brand’s message communicated through a recognized news source. However, both sides reported that this year’s political races had a dramatic effect on how they perceive brand messages in general.
  • Sixty-eight percent of Trump supporters and 52% of Clinton’s camp said their trust in brand messages, whether filtered through the media or delivered directly by the businesses themselves, decreased over the course of the 2016 U.S. election season.
  • Apparently, we can’t trust each other either: a mere 23% of Clinton supporters said they trust user-generated reviews, such as those found on Yelp, “most of the time,” while slightly more of Trump’s champions (28%) feel the same way.

What does this mean for brands? As the digital landscape continues to grow in complexity, the need for businesses to know their customers grows in tandem, ranging from where they are and when they move across applications and devices, so they can better manage the customer’s entire cross-channel experience. Whether they’re online or off, customers expect a consistent and engaging brand experience across all touchpoints. Brands must choose their channels carefully and have a solid understanding of the social dynamics of the selected channel in order to successfully deliver messages and experiences that resonate. This helps achieve the coveted halo effect, which can help defend against the occasional bad review or social media misstep, because let’s face it: skepticism can be applied to any information, good or bad.

Understanding your customer is the key to marketing success today. It goes beyond knowing their name to fully understanding their likes and dislikes. A key technology that makes this possible is known as Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM). An identity solution helps companies acquire and recognize customers, collect accurate first-party data, and facilitate personalized marketing through integrations. Rather than try to “mass generalize” the tastes of liberal and conservatives, for instance, the data cultivated by a CIAM solution can help marketers look at everything that goes into making someone who he or she is. This deeper knowledge can in turn be used to give them an experience or offer that they might not even know they want yet.

Check out our infographic below to learn more about how Clinton and Trump voters feel about brands. The results were surprising — at least to me…


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About the author

Bryta Schulz

Bryta Schulz

VP, Marketing

As Vice President of Marketing, Bryta Schulz leads Janrain’s global marketing initiatives. Schulz brings 20+ years of experience marketing innovative enterprise, software as a service (SaaS), security and payments solutions. She has held positions at a number of top global technology companies including Xerox, RSA, Symantec and Thales. Schulz is a senior marketing, product and go-to-market executive with a record of driving product adoption, revenue and shareholder value at both early stage and publicly traded companies. Prior to Janrain, Schulz was the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Vindicia, where she was a key member of the management team, successfully driving rapid growth of the sales pipeline and spearheading the company’s global expansion. Schulz holds a Master of Arts in Translation from the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Reutlingen.

View all posts by Bryta Schulz