Edelman has been studying Trust for 13 years now globally and in the Asia Pacific region for 9 years. Trust is the foundation of corporate and brand reputation and in every culture and language there is a word or a phrase that conveys a remarkably consistent meaning.
Trust in English means “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.” In business, without trust very little can be achieved and it could be argued that the more trust that exists in a market or society, the more efficient it becomes.
But if trust is a universally understood value, the way in which it is earned, conferred and enjoyed is very specific to each country. In Asia Pacific, we are broadly a trusting region. Six of the top nine most “trusting” nations are from the Asia Pacific. But then Australia, Japan and South Korea are in the bottom nine and Japan is only more trusting than Russia.
In this brochure we are for the first time bringing together commentary from Edelman leaders around the region on trust in their markets and sectors. For anyone wanting to plan corporate or brand reputation in the fastest growing and most dynamic of regions, we hope this is a valuable guide. In trust as in many things, there is no such country as Asia Pacific and if this study does anything it should illustrate that trust building approaches need to be very country specific.
For example, among informed publics in Korea, only 31 percent of respondents believe that business can be trusted to “do what is right.” In India that number is 81 percent. In Japan only 32 percent trust their government to do what is right after the cover ups and fiascoes surrounding the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. In contrast, the consistently smooth running of Singapore garners that island’s PAP government with an 82 percent trust rating, also among informed publics.
The study also highlights that many companies headquartered in our region are trading at a huge trust discount abroad; something that affects the brands they try to market and their ability to do deals and win cooperation in the developed world. Companies from our two biggest economies China and India are trusted by only 35 percent and 34 percent of informed publics globally. Compare that to Canadian or German companies who score 76 percent and 75 percent. This trust deficit means AP firms are losing deals, paying more for deals and being blocked by governments and unions who do not know what they stand for and what their values are. Proactive engagement programmes by companies going abroad and by national trade development agencies are vital if businesses from our region are to succeed in growing abroad.
And for those planning media relations programmes in our region, it might be useful to know that while media is highly trusted in China, India, Singapore and Hong Kong it is much less trusted in Australia, Japan and South Korea. The study also reveals which spokespeople are most trusted to tell how it is, and the big news for some is that is not always the CEO and more often an employee or academic.
Trust varies by industry sector with technology in Asia Pacific and globally being the most trusted for many years now. Banking has suffered a cataclysmic decline in trust in the west on the back of the financial crisis and the various scandals over the last few years, but in our region banking remains highly trusted with not one market putting their trust below 50 percent and in many rating it very much higher.
I hope that this taste of some of the differences that exist in the trust profiles of countries in the region encourages you to read the essays in the following booklet. If you are interested in a more detailed presentation on a market or sector than please connect with the appropriate Edelman leader.