Soulmates.AI, a marketing sciences platform that 'reads' social speech to understand a consumer's interests and beliefs, has launched a Brand Trust Index to help brands understand how consumer trust works - and the first edition of the index has identified Amazon as retail's most trusted brand. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

Developed by Soulmates.AI and psychometric research firm psyML, the study surveyed more than 4,000 respondents and measured trust against three major dimensions and 12 subdimensions. Brand loyalty, brand reliance and emotional appeal define trust alongside subdimensions such as shared values, social responsibility, honesty and aspirational appeal. Each dimension was scored on a 100-point scale with scores of 70+ suggesting consumers believe the brand performs well in that dimension. Scores between 64-40 indicated a neutral expectation from consumers, while a score below 39 suggested they did not expect the brand to perform.

The report analyzed the top-10 grossing retail brands and key takeaways include:

  • Amazon is king: ~30% of respondents selected Amazon as the brand they trust the most
  • Equally best and worst: Apple scored the most polarizing scores, both reflecting very positive and negative responses. The total trust score however was similar to other brands that were naturally neutral
  • Positive neutrality: Best Buy showed neutral levels of trust could be a good signal. 72% of respondents that never shopped there would consider visiting
  • Income matters: while Dollar General earned low score overall, lower income respondents were more trusting
  • Trust in digital: Digital retailers scored higher than physical-first brands like Dollar General

As the report notes, brand trust is a business currency with significant influence over purchase decisions and consumer behaviors. High levels of trust correlate to stronger sales performance whereas low levels of trust restrict purchase decisions and welcome comparison shopping.

"Trust is a deeply complex and personal emotion," said Galen Buckwalter, Ph.D., chief scientist at Soulmates.AI. "Understanding how consumers trust depends on their perspective, history and even life station. With a.BTI, we've carefully surveyed trust's major expressions to really understand how and why it impacts consumer behavior in such a dramatic manner."