Backgrounder: New national survey and analysis reveals most trusted brands in Canada

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) measures consumers’ opinions about 249 corporate and product brands in Canada.

The GBTI evaluates responses by Canadian consumers on 40 factors to assess what causes consumers to recommend a brand to their friends and family. The team behind the GBTI has found that brand trust and consumer advocacy are very closely related by Canadian consumers. The GBTI can drill down further into consumer attitudes on measures that include: community and social responsibility; innovation; differentiation; leadership; quality and value for money. The responses are indexed to provide rankings for the brands nationally, regionally, by category and by demographic group.

GBTI Drivers of Brand Trust
The following brand value drivers have differing levels of relationship to brand trust according to industry category:

• VALUE: Good value for money and fair pricing.
• QUALITY: Rating for brand quality.
• SOCIAL EQUITY: Composite measure of a brand’s social and environmental performance.
• BRAND ENERGY: Composite measure of a brand’s strength in leadership, innovation and dynamism, and its differentiation.
• BRAND TRUST: Composite measure of a brand’s consistency, reliability, authenticity and ethical performance.

Canada’s Top 10 Most Trusted Brands
1. Tim Hortons
2. President’s Choice
3. Shoppers Drug Mart
4. Google
5. Canadian Tire
6. Kraft Foods
7. Campbell Soup Company
8. Heinz
9. Canada Post
10. Johnson & Johnson

Tim Hortons is significantly ahead of its category competitors on consistency, reliability, honesty and care. Quality is the strongest driver of brand trust in the coffee and tea category. On social measures such as care for workers and environmental responsibility, Tim Hortons produced outstanding scores across all factors measured including the highest rating for a national brand for its responsibility to society.

The strongest rated performers in the index on social responsibility were three provincial brands: Groupe Desjardins, Saskatchewan Power Corp and Jean Coutu.

President’s Choice is not only the second most trusted brand in Canada, it wins stronger scores for trust against international packaged goods brands like Kraft, Nestlé, General Mills and Heinz.

Insights from the First Gustavson Brand Trust Index
• Consumers recommend brands that they perceive to be honest, consistent and reliable.
• Women tend to trust brands more than men do, though they rank the top brands similarly.
• Older consumers tend to trust the top brands more than younger consumers do.
• Although brand trust is most closely correlated with net recommendation across all brands, quality is more important in consumer packaged goods and for banks, media and telecommunications companies.
• New ‘challenger brands,’ such as Green Works, Happy Planet and Earth’s Own, are winning on environmental responsibility.
• Regional brands in Saskatchewan and Quebec lead on a cluster of social and environmental factors.
• Banks generally score above average for social responsibility, with provincial banks significantly in the lead. Groupe Desjardins is particularly favoured in Québec, as is Vancity in BC.
• The least trusted brands in the survey were primarily in financial, travel and utility categories.

Winners of Consumers Trust by Industry Sector (excluding regional brands)
Banks - TD Canada Trust
Beer - Alexander Keith’s
Cars - Honda
Coffee/Tea -  DAVIDsTEA
Confectionery/Snack Foods - Cadbury
Consumer Packaged Goods - President’s Choice
Dairy - Natrel
Energy Companies - Shell
Hotels - Holiday Inn
Insurance - Manulife
Media - CTV
Natural/Health - Jamieson
Pharmacy - Shoppers Drug Mart
Restaurants/Takeout - Tim Hortons
Retailers (non-drug) - Canadian Tire
Soft Drinks/Juices/Waters - Coca-Cola
Supermarkets - Walmart
Technology - Google
Telecoms/Cable - TELUS
Travel - WestJet

Regional Brands
In the Telecoms/Cable category, Sasktel and Videotron score more strongly than the national players and
Save-On-Foods, based in BC, wins on brand trust in the supermarkets category, just ahead of Walmart. Consumers rank Save-On-Foods very strongly on quality, which is closely linked to trust.

Although energy companies overall score below the average on brand trust, Irving Oil outperforms against their competitors on quality and value, which contributes to consumer appreciation of trust. Irving performs particularly well on their community engagement, which is not an area that other brands in the category are using to build their brand trust. Irving appears to be leveraging their regional advantage better than the competing energy brands.

Atlantic: President’s Choice and Kraft Foods
Ontario: Tim Hortons and President’s Choice
Quebec: Tim Hortons and Jean Coutu
Prairies: Shoppers Drug Mart and the Campbell Soup Company
Pacific: Tim Hortons and Costco

Most Trusted National Brands by Age and Income

Tim Hortons wins across all age and income groups on trust.

• 18-35 Tim Hortons, Google and Amazon
• 35+ Tim Hortons, Dairyland and President’s Choice
• 55+ Canadian Tire and Tim Hortons

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index team leaders

Dr. Saul Klein, Dean, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business
Under Saul Klein’s leadership as dean, the Gustavson School of Business has articulated a vision of being a pioneer in business education that creates sustainable value. This vision is being realized through a broad network of global partnerships (86 partner institutions in 42 countries) and a commitment to community engagement and socio-economic wellbeing. Professor Klein has had an extensive international career in Canada, the US, Singapore and South Africa. His research focuses on the global competitiveness of emerging market firms and he has provided consulting assistance to over 40 different organizations.

Klein holds a PhD in Marketing and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Faculty of Management, University of Toronto. He has 30 years of experience in teaching, research, consulting, advisory services, and executive training in the areas of international business, marketing and emerging markets.

Dr. David Dunne, Professor, International Marketing and Service Innovation, Gustavson School of Business
Dr. David Dunne joined the Gustavson School of Business in 2014, bringing with him a fascination for human behaviour and creative problem solving. These twin passions have shaped his professional life. His research explores how designers apply in-depth user research and creative thinking methods to “wicked problems,” critical, chronic problems in society and business with no clear start or end point, problems in the health care system for example.

Dunne's research has been published in business and design journals, including Harvard Business Review and Academy of Management Learning & Education. He has held appointments at design schools in the Netherlands, the US and Mexico. Dunne teaches design, strategy and marketing to students and executives worldwide. His recent executive teaching/consulting clients include AstraZeneca, Corus Entertainment, GlaxoSmithKline, Mt Sinai Hospital and Ontario Local Health Integration Networks.

Matthew Hall, Principal, GoodBrand Canada
Mr. Matthew Hall has recently returned to Canada from Europe, where he had a successful 31-year career with Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage company. Before returning to Canada, Hall initiated and executed organizational re-designs and new product launches, introduced leading edge sustainability processes, along with health, wellness and nutrition programs as the CEO of Nestle UK Food and Beverage in London, England. Now based in Vancouver, Hall is currently a principle with UK-based GoodBrand, a leading advisor to several Fortune 500 companies in the area of sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Hall is also on the boards of Earth’s Own, Happy Planet, Agrifoods International Cooperative Ltd and the Burcon NutraScience Corporation.

Dr. Mike Thompson, (GLO) Good Leaders Online, Shanghai, GoodBrand, London. Professor of Management Practice, International Advisory Board, Gustavson School of Business
Dr. Mike Thompson has worked alongside entrepreneurs throughout his career. He serves on the boards of GoodBrand, the social innovation consultancy, and GLO - Good Leaders Online in Shanghai for which he has created wise leadership techniques for its leadership search and development programs. He helped to develop what is now the Envero Brand Trust Index used by multinational brands to measure sustainability and trust performance. Thompson has lectured in business schools across the world and from 2009-13 he was professor of management practice on the faculty of the China Europe International Business School. Thompson's scholarly work is mainly focused on wise leadership and has been published in a variety of journals, business publications and book chapters. His most recent books are Wise Management in Organisational Complexity (with David Bevan, 2013) and Suited Monk Leadership (with Raf Adams, 2014).

About the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria
At the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, we see things differently. A Gustavson business education and approach is founded on our vision to pioneer business education that creates sustainable value. There are four pillars that underpin everything we do: international, integration, innovation and sustainability/social responsibility. These values are incorporated throughout our programs in course content, in teaching style, in developing a global mindset and in our areas of specialization. We inspire global business leaders who can help to create a better world. The quality of our programs is reflected in the thought leadership our professors bring to the classroom. In our Executive Programs, we address the management training and educational needs of employers domestically and globally, in both the private and public sectors. Celebrating our 25th birthday in 2015, Gustavson is a growing, dynamic business school, committed to making a difference.

For more information on the Gustavson Brand Trust Index, see

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Keywords: business, marketing

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