The Gustavson Brand Trust Index


Gustavson Brand Trust Index

The results are in!

Which are Canada's 2021 Top 10 most trusted brands?

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Gustavson Brand Trust Index

GBTI 2021 Report

Big brands lose their edge in 2021 Gustavson Brand Trust Index

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Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) Panel 2021

Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) Panel 2021

Dr. Saul Klein was joined by brand leaders for a candid panel discussion

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The 2021 Gustavson Brand Trust Index: Big Brands Lose Their Edge 

The 2021 Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) reveals a dramatic shift in consumer loyalty and purchase considerations. These changes highlight the relationship between consumer trust, brand advocacy and authenticity.

On the heels of an exceptionally tumultuous year, the seventh iteration of the GBTI study found that consumers’ trust in brands is linked to authenticity—their belief that the brand reflects their values. Previously trusted brands such as Amazon, Whole Foods, Air Canada and Tesla Inc., dropped in the rankings as consumers felt that the companies’ values no longer aligned with their own.

“More than ever, CEOs are being viewed as societal leaders entrusted to take a stand on social issues, from climate change to addressing racial injustice,” says Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “As the world climbs out of the pandemic, brand awareness is no longer the currency of business—consumer trust is the priority. There is a need for companies to rethink how they are driving positive societal change.”

Over the past year, Canadian consumers have shown an acute awareness of whether a brand is truly compassionate in its activities, or whether their acts of compassion are opportunistic, and this distinction is reflected in the findings.

“Amazon may be past its peak in terms of brand trust,” adds Klein. “While more Canadians have used Amazon services than ever before, concerns about the company’s broader impact have resulted in Amazon dropping sharply in this year’s study. Whole Foods had always prided itself on its employee culture, but the company’s brand trust and advocacy scores plummeted in 2021, and employee relations may have played a part in that.”

Other Key Findings 

Younger consumers are less trusting than older consumers. The GBTI study has found that millennials are less trusting compared to older generations. This finding appears to be due to the younger generation’s inclination to assign their loyalties to proactive organizations who they perceive to be helping solve long-standing societal issues and contributing to making the world a better place.

Trust in media is at an all-time low. In the Spring of 2020, the media category saw a spike in trust as people tuned in at the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, the trust bubble has burst, with all traditional and new media brands (except for Maclean’s Magazine) giving up most (if not all) of the gains they saw early on. Social media brands such as Facebook remained among the least trusted in the index.

Trust in Canadian telecom companies is on the rise, but it is still the second least trusted category. Past year-on-year results had telecom companies showing signs of trouble, with nearly all of the companies seeing a decline in their brand trust scores. Three of the big four telecom companies, however, saw significant improvement after COVID-19 struck as they provided critical infrastructure for both work and social interaction.

Read the full 2021 Index report here. 

Visit our Media Centre for infographics and additional multi-media materials. 

Brand Trust Index Webinar 

On Thursday, May 6, 2021, Dean Saul Klein, in collaboration with the Canadian Marketing Association, hosted a webinar to present the results of the seventh annual GBTI as well as to compare results between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 surveys. Dr. Saul Klein was joined by brand leaders for a candid panel discussion on how companies can earn trust authentically in a purpose-driven economy during the global pandemic.

Dean Saul Klein was joined on the panel by:


About the GBTI 2021

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) is the only study done by an academic institution that investigates consumer trust, the factors that affect it and the brands that succeed at it. Established in 2015, the GBTI champions responsible management within organizations through its findings, highlighting the increased need for 21st century businesses to contribute positively to their communities. As a school, the Gustavson School of Business is uniquely positioned to both evaluate brand values and educate on their importance to consumer trust in today’s society. Comprising top researchers in their fields, the GBTI team measures overall consumer trust in brands and emphasizes the role of brand values in its study of almost 400 brands across Canada.

We gathered data from 9,000 consumers about 391 national and 10 regional brands during the weeks of January and February, assessing consumer levels of brand trust. The research team at the Gustavson School of Business has been studying the dynamics of trust in brands by assessing thousands of Canadian consumers’ perceptions for over six years.