MEC rises to the top of the fifth annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

MEC tops 2019 Gustavson Brand Trust Index

The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria has unveiled the fifth annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index with key trends suggesting that consumers are more willing to place a brand in a positive light when a company responds to a crisis with honest and authentic remedies. 

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) led this year’s ranking as the most trusted brand in Canada, despite consumer criticism over the lack of diversity in their advertisements. MEC was forthright in acknowledging the lack of representation in how it depicted people in outdoor activities and actively addressed the lack of diversity in multiple ways that helped maintain consumer trust. 

Canada’s Top 10 Most Trusted Brands for 2019:

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

“Consumers are paying closer attention to a brand’s values and its social responsibility,” says Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “Being honest and authentic, and communicating a plan of action when faced with criticism, for example, ensured that MEC didn’t lose trust among its customers—and that made all the difference.” 

Along similar lines, Gillette saw an increase in values-based trust, which measures a brand’s ability to act responsibly and stay true to its values. This was attributed to the brand’s hard-hitting “The Best Men Can Be” advertising campaign which challenged overt masculinity, addressed bullying and sexism, and responded to the #MeToo movement. This increase in the brand’s values-based trust score propelled its overall trust ranking from 88 in 2018 to 29 in 2019. 

“Our index continues to highlight the importance of a company standing up for its values, through its words and its actions, and the effect this has on consumer trust,” says Klein. “The brand trust index also shows that failures on this front can lead to drastic negative impact on a brand’s overall trust among consumers.”

That trend was evident in social media platforms’ poor performance on the index. Facebook’s values-based trust score saw a substantial decline from 2018, while Snapchat and Instagram also experienced a decline in standings. This erosion of trust in social media continues from small losses in the 2018 study to much larger distrust amongst consumers in 2019. Social media brands now account for four of the nine least trusted brands in Canada.

The annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index uses a statistically representative sample of 7,200 consumers to score 313 Canadian companies and brands. It measures the performance of brands and companies in 26 industry sectors on a range of brand value measures. The survey results can be broken down by demographics to show how perceptions of trust and advocacy for particular brands differ between men and women, in different regions and across age and income groups.

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Media contacts

Saul Klein (Dean, Gustavson School of Business) at 250-721-6422 or

Krista Boehnert (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6246 (cell) or

Click here for the backgrounder.

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Keywords: business, marketing

People: Saul Klein

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