Follow-up Report

Gustavson Brand Trust Index COVID-19 Response Survey garners national attention

Since its release in June of this year, the 2020 Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) COVID-19 Response Study has garnered media attention across Canada. 

The COVID-19 Response Study was conducted in April of 2020 and surveyed 1,050 Canadians on 105 brands. This was a follow-up to the annual GBTI study, conducted in January that included 342 brands and surveyed more than 7800 Canadians.

While not intended to be as robust as the complete GBTI, the COVID-19 Response Study captured a snapshot of consumers’ trust in selected brands during the global pandemic. 

Media Coverage

 The Post COVID-19 Study has been featured in some of Canada’s top media outlets including: 

GBTI COVID-19 Study 

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index 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. The team at the Gustavson School of Business established this Index in 2015 with an aim to raise awareness on the role trust plays in the minds of consumers when making purchasing decisions. The Index highlights how shared values, relationship management and customer experience, influence consumer trust. It also measures the relationships between brand performance, social equity, trust and advocacy for brands in Canada.

 In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand trust research team quickly mobilized a response study to gauge changes in consumer trust for a sub-set of brands. Even as the general public becomes more reliant on some services and products during the pandemic, some brands saw consumers’ trust in them drop.

Key Findings

An interesting finding in the current year is that brands which were unable to ensure product availability during the pandemic - for example, Lysol and Clorox - saw a decline in trust scores. Even though consumers were reliant on these products and wanted to buy them more than ever, trust in the brands went down because they were not there when consumers needed them.

Additionally, a key finding of the 2020 Index is that consumer trust in brands is at an all-time low. 

Trust in Canadian telecom companies is on the rise. 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. However, this year three out of the big 4 telecom companies saw significant improvement after COVID struck.

Millennials are less trusting compared to any other generation. They assign their loyalties to organizations that are proactive in solving long-standing societal issues and contribute to making the world a better place. This trend appeared throughout the survey. For example, Lush, with a history of donating to progressive groups and advocating for many causes, was the most trusted brand in Canada amongst ages 18-35.

The new role of a brand’s supply chain. The pandemic transformed the way consumers look at a brand’s supply chain. For an organization to be trusted and seen as credible, it must ensure the availability and competitiveness of its product and supply chain. 

Read the full report here. 

Most Trusted brands from follow-up report

Brand Trust Score (Post-COVID-19)

Brand Trust Score 2020 (Fielded in January)

1. Canada Post



2. Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix



3. CTV News



4. Costco (TIE)



4. The Weather Network (TIE)  



6. CBC/Radio Canada News



7. Interac



8. VIA Rail



9. Global News (TIE)



9. Cirque du Soleil (TIE)



View the full list of follow-up report GBTI 2020 rankings