With online misinformation and data breaches on the rise, consumers are more skeptical than ever. Wary of being misled, and savvier about their choices, they're also more proactive about finding trustworthy sources; using Google Search to fact-check claims, scrutinise brand values, and ensure authenticity from the brands they choose to engage with.
In 2021, the pandemic exposed the dangerous consequences of misinformation and spurred governments across the world to introduce “fake news” laws. But encouragingly, the public is now more aware of the spread of false information, with 86% in APAC now expressing worries about fake news.13 People have also become more aware, and worried, about their data online, with 76% of Australians concerned about how it’s being collected and used by companies.14
Searches reflect these growing anxieties, as people seek authoritative information on important topics, such as vaccines. With data breaches top of mind in 2021, privacy-related searches also demonstrated growing concerns about digital safety.
The increasing prevalence of truth-seeking behaviours means shoppers are willing to invest more of their time and resources to ensure their choices align with their value systems and beliefs. 9 in 10 Australians are more likely to purchase ethical and sustainable products, and 85% want retailers and brands to be more transparent about sustainability.15
Consumers are searching for ethical shopping options, have a lower tolerance for misinformation, and are eager to hold brands accountable for any claims they make. Regardless of how much they trust a brand, consumers across all age groups will conduct extensive research before making a purchase and expect brands to take proactive steps to earn and keep their trust.
For brands, transparency, authenticity and two-way communication with consumers are more important than ever.
Fact-checking, fighting fraud, and protecting privacy
Searches show consumers are increasingly concerned about misinformation and privacy, compared to pre-COVID. In 2021, 87% of APAC consumers said it’s now more important than before the pandemic to find trusted sources of information.16
Savvier value systems
Consumers are increasingly aligning themselves with brands that share the same higher purpose. Google searches are rising for topics like sustainability and ethics, while more than half of consumers have stopped buying products or services that have a negative impact on the environment and society. With 79% of consumers feeling Australia has a responsibility to take action on climate change,18 it’s not surprising to see people searching for ways to play their part in creating a more sustainable future.
Searches for used items for sale increased up to 25% in Australia and New Zealand, as people looked for more sustainable options than buying brand new.
Consumer demands for reassurance
Today’s consumers expect to be reassured throughout the shopping journey. For 31% of APAC shoppers surveyed,19 authenticity is a key issue on marketplaces and we see increasing searches for delivery tracking and official stores of popular brands.
Rising misinformation and data breaches have put consumers on high alert, heightened their values and lowered their tolerance for anything misleading. Trust is now a brand’s most important asset, with customers expecting proactive transparency and authenticity as a minimum.
"Brands need to be for the people, and guided by the people. Why? Because brand trust ranks higher than brand love."
While consumers are concerned about how data collected online is being used by companies, they’re often happy to share it with businesses they trust when they’re given a clear choice and control. However, only 30% of APAC marketers have a dedicated strategy to clearly communicate their data privacy policies with consumers.20 It’s time to consider how you can prioritise your customers’ privacy concerns in order to earn their trust.
Prepare your digital ads ecosystem for a future without third-party cookies.
Explore privacy-preserving strategies that fuel continued business growth by allowing companies to reach people with relevant ads, and measure results without needing to track people across the web.
When it comes to building trust, brands cannot afford to cut corners. As consumers feel increasingly empowered to hold brands accountable, earning and maintaining trust requires consistent, authentic, and proactive communication.
Consider the full implications of your company values on every part of your value chain.
Expand the definition of what it means to be sustainable by using Google Cloud Carbon Footprint to evaluate and reduce the footprint of your carbon workloads.
Following a new law passed in 2021, businesses in New Zealand's financial sector will be required to disclose the impacts of climate change on their operations and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities. The world-first legislation will be mandatory for approximately 200 companies and is intended to hold financial organisations accountable for their actions while encouraging better practices.