Backgrounder: Gustavson Brand Trust Index Backgrounder

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index (GBTI) measures Canadian consumers’ opinions about 313 national corporate and product brands across 26 categories. 

The GBTI evaluates responses from 7,200 Canadians to assess consumer levels of brand trust and what causes them to recommend a brand to their friends and family. The team behind the GBTI found that Canadian consumers closely link brand trust with consumer advocacy. The responses are indexed to provide rankings for the brands nationally, by category, gender, age, region and income.

Gustavson Brand Trust Model

The brand trust survey measures overall brand trust and three different dimensions of trust that influence whether consumers recommend a brand to their networks:

  • Brand trust overall – consumer perceptions of whether the brand is trustworthy and acts with integrity
  • Values-based trust – consumer perceptions on the brand’s social responsibility
  • Functional trust – consumer perceptions on how well the brand performs its core functions
  • Relationship trust – consumer perceptions on how the brand interacts with its consumers
  • Word of mouth – the extent to which consumers recommend the brand to others


Canada’s Top 10 Most Trusted Brands for 2019 (Rank in 2018):

  1. MEC (2)
  2. Canadian Automobile Association (1)
  3. Costco Wholesale (3)
  4. Home Hardware (22)
  5. Home Depot (8)
  6. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (4)
  7. Band-Aid (16)
  8. Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix (7)
  9. Interac (12)
  10. Columbia Sportswear (22)
    10. Canadian Tire (20)


Insights from the 2019 Gustavson Brand Trust Index


  • The top three most trusted brands in Canada are membership-based businesses
  • Brands that violate our trust through active malfeasance or a lack of transparency remain mired at the bottom of our rankings.
  • Consumers have different expectations of brands depending on what they sell – consumers place more value on relationship trust with service-based brands. In contrast, consumers place more value on functional trust with product-based brands
  • Brands win Canadians' hearts and minds by playing a positive role in society – but it takes time.
  • When it comes to regaining consumer trust in the wake of a crisis, actions speak a lot louder than words. Consumers are more willing to place a brand in a positive light when a crisis is responded to with the honest and authentic remedies.
  • Female consumers are more trusting than their male counterparts, however younger Canadians, regardless of gender are less trusting than their elders.

  Winners of Consumers Trust by Industry Sector


Alexander Keith's


LG Appliances

Automobile Rental







Kicking Horse Coffee

Confectionery/Snack Foods

Lindt / Lindor

Dairy Products and Alternatives


Delivery Services


Electronics & AV Equipment


Financial Services


Food & Drug Retailers

Costco Wholesale

Gas Stations



Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Household Care



Canadian Automobile Association

Media & Entertainment


Packaged Foods

President's Choice

Personal & Beauty Care



The Keg Steakhouse / A&W

Specialty Retailers



Columbia Sportswear


Microsoft / IBM / Adobe




VIA Rail


Carlson Wagonlit

The Gustavson Brand Trust Index team

Dr. Saul Klein, Dean & Professor of Marketing & International Business, Gustavson School of Business

Dr. Saul Klein has had a broad-ranging career spanning developing, developed and transition countries. He specializes in the areas of marketing strategy, global business and international marketing.  His research focuses on the global competitiveness of emerging market firms and he has provided consulting assistance to over 50 different organizations in these areas in Canada, the USA, Singapore and South Africa. He has also led strategic planning workshops for a variety of organization in different sectors. Klein serves on the boards of the National Consortium for Indigenous Economic Development (Canada), the Mediterranean Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (Tunisia) and on the International Advisory Committees of UIBE and Beijing Jiaotong Universities (China). 

Dr. David Dunne, Director, MBA Programs & Professor of International Marketing & Service Innovation, Gustavson School of Business

Dr. David Dunne joined the Gustavson School of Business in 2014. 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, such as problems in the health care system. His research has been published in business and design journals, including Harvard Business Review and Academy of Management Learning & Education. Dunne teaches design, strategy and marketing to students and executives worldwide and has held appointments at design schools in the Netherlands, the US and Mexico. His recent executive teaching/consulting clients include AstraZeneca, Corus Entertainment, GlaxoSmithKline, Mt Sinai Hospital and Ontario Local Health Integration Networks. 

Dr. Linda Shi, Associate Professor, Gustavson School of Business

Dr. Linda Shi teaches marketing and international business. Her research interests include global marketing strategy, China marketing, consumers relationship management, global account management, service recovery and consumers satisfaction. Shi has published her research in numerous scholarly journals including: Journal of International Business Studies, Management International Review, Journal of International Marketing, and Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, among others. Shi previously worked for Procter & Gamble's China headquarters and was responsible for several key projects regarding inventory reduction, supplier and consumers management, and cost accounting process optimization. 

Venus Tamturk, Brand Trust Project Manager, Gustavson School of Business

Venus Tamturk joined Gustavson in 2018. In her current role as the Brand Trust Project Manager, Gustavson School of Business at University of Victoria, she is using her background to think creatively and strategically on how to use the Brand Trust data finding to craft strategy on corporate engagement with UVic and Gustavson. As the project manager, she is s on the front line of information management, analyzing, investigating, interpreting and communicating complex information in support of the School’s long-term ethics, responsibility, sustainability and research goals. 

About the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria is dedicated to providing a non-traditional business education and a dynamic learning environment that develops principled managers and leaders who can drive innovation and social change. Located in Victoria, BC at the University of Victoria, Gustavson is among the fewer than one per cent of the world's business schools that hold both AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) and EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System) accreditation. The Gustavson School of Business offers BCom, MBA, MGB and PhD programs, has 95 international exchange partners, and celebrated its 25th birthday in 2015. For more information, visit:

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Keywords: business, marketing

People: Saul Klein

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