Keys to brand development: earning customer trust

Updated August 1, 2023 | By: Emily McCullough, Sr. Marketing manager

Working with Environics Research, we developed a custom study to uncover how Canadian consumer values are evolving over time, and the needs that drive each of these values. Values are formed through a range of experiences and influences, contributing to a worldview that remains relatively stable over time. These values set the context for the choices consumers make, and can be an important consideration for brands.

In 2020, Amazon Ads commissioned a survey from Environics Research to understand the needs and values that matter most to over 800 Canadians. When paired with the analysis from the Environics Research annual Social Values survey of more than 5,000 Canadians, the results highlight the values driving consumer expectations of brands today, and how marketers can use these insights to support effective brand development.

In part one of this two-part series, we’ll review the values shaping Canadian consumer behavior and introduce the principles behind effective brand development.

What is brand development?

Brand development is the process of improving your brand, or your consumers’ knowledge and opinion of your brand.1 To build brand trust and loyalty, it’s critical for marketers to understand the “why” behind consumer needs, and how their advertising fits within that context.

Brands that understand the values shaping consumer needs are better positioned to differentiate themselves among available offerings at every stage of the marketing funnel and strengthen their connections with shoppers.

Four values shaping Canadian consumer behavior

Our research surfaced four core values that are shaping Canadian consumers’ needs today. A brand and marketing strategy that delivers on these values can help to drive positive brand development.

Consumers want to:

Align themselves with brands with purpose

Make purchase decisions with confidence

Have experiences that are curated for them

Be delighted with convenient solutions

Align your brand with purpose

Purpose is not just a buzzword. It can have meaningful impact on your business. Brands that lead with purpose – a compelling reason behind statements and actions – can achieve long-term loyalty, consistency, and relevance. Eighty-two percent of Canadians surveyed by Environics said they are more likely to purchase products or services from brands whose values align with their own, and 88% of Canadians surveyed believe that more brands should do their part in helping the world, especially during difficult times.2 That’s why purpose-driven companies witness increased sales and grow— on average—three times faster than their peers, while achieving higher employee and customer satisfaction.3

At Amazon, we take purpose seriously. We’re committed to using our size and scale to make a difference, and that’s why we co-founded The Climate Pledge. The goal of The Climate Pledge is to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early and become net-zero carbon by 2040. Climate change is a serious problem, and action is needed now to build towards a safe and healthy planet for future generations.4

To date, Amazon has made major investments in renewable energy including over 206 solar and wind projects worldwide. Amazon is the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy and is on a path to reach 100% renewable energy by 2025, five years ahead of our initial target.5 In 2019 Amazon ordered 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles from Climate Pledge signatory and Climate Pledge Fund investee, Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles.6 And in June 2020, Amazon purchased the naming rights to the home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken and WNBA's Seattle Storm. Instead of naming it after Amazon, we’re calling it Climate Pledge Arena as a regular reminder of the importance of fighting climate change. The Climate Pledge Arena has a goal to be the first net-zero-carbon certified arena in the world.7 As of May 2021, 106 companies across 25 industries and 16 countries have signed the Climate Pledge.8

To activate your brand with purpose:

Be authentic; use insights to understand your customers’ values and look for synergies with your brand and organizational purpose.

Don’t jump on the latest hot-button issue; make long-term commitments.

Most importantly, don’t just talk the talk. Drive meaningful action with measurable outcomes.

Give your customers confidence in their purchase

To make purchase decisions with confidence, consumers are doing more research than ever. In fact, our research revealed that before making a purchase, 87% of Canadian consumers say they are doing more research today, than they did five years ago.9

Ninety-three percent of digital shoppers worldwide read reviews. In fact, for new customers on a path to purchase, reading reviews ranked higher than looking at a brand's social media channels and even comparing prices. Interestingly, if a company responded to negative customer comments, that increased trust for nearly 80% of survey respondents. Consumer trust relies heavily on both reviews and brand honesty.10

At Amazon, we proudly display customer reviews – both positive and negative – to help customers make purchase decisions with confidence. IMDb and Goodreads also take the same approach. IMDb is the world's most popular source for movie, TV, and celebrity content, designed to help fans explore the world of movies and shows and decide what to watch.11 Goodreads is the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations. Our mission is to help people find and share books they love.12 Whether it’s helping customers make purchase decisions, finding a new movie to watch, or selecting a book to indulge in, we want to help customers make these purchase decisions.

To effectively activate confidence:

Engage your customers by asking them for feedback.

Be transparent. Positive reviews are great, but don’t hide negative reviews on your own website. Use these as an opportunity to address concerns and improve the experience for customers.

In part two of our series, we’ll review the final two principles behind effective brand development: curation and convenience.


2 Social Values building Meaningful Brands
9 Social Values building Meaningful Brands