Edelman Miami, the regional hub for Edelman’s Latin America region, partnered with The Wall Street Journal Americas to present for the first time in Miami the regional findings of the 2012 Trust Barometer to an audience of over 75 members of the Latin American business community.
Miami brought together people from the many countries in Latin America across industries and sectors. Much like the city itself, the event brought forth the viewpoints of business leaders from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
The presentation was led by Gail Becker, Chair, Canada, Latin America and Western Region, US along with Harold Hamana, SVP Latin America. Gail was accompanied by panelists Michael Costello, from The Clorox Company; Anthony McNeill Ingham, from Citibank; Mario Cader-Frech from Viacom Media Networks; and Jurg Zundel, from Caterpillar. Cristina Aby-Azar, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Americas, moderated the panel.
Edelman engaged the audience by presenting the findings and connecting them to the Latin American business environment. As a result of the dynamic discussion, 6 perspectives on trust were discussed.
6 Perspectives on Trust
1. Trust is more than a corporate reputation issue. It impacts daily decisions and actions.
Consumers are more empowered than ever, and only buy and recommend products that they trust. Companies must earn the trust of consumers on a daily basis, in order to continue selling their products. Therefore, trust is one of the most important assets that companies have- whether they target consumers or enterprises.
“While governments are elected on a yearly basis, our products are elected every week- every day. Consumers are going to elect one brand over another based on trust. One of our core products, bleach and disinfecting is all about trust.” Michael Costello, from The Clorox Company
2. Trust is about action and communication.
Whether engaging virtually on social media or in the real world, credibility and trust are earned through transparency and dialogue. Actions followed by communication allow brands and companies to reach more people in more places. Leveraging emerging technologies and platforms to communicate with audiences becomes increasingly important as new channels become available.
“In terms of credibility, I don’t think it’s necessarily about the platform, because as we’ve seen before, the platform changes very quickly. Yesterday in Brazil, we were in Orkut today we’re on Facebook. Things change very quickly and despite that the expressions, the concerns and the voice is still there,” Anthony McNeill Ingham, from Citibank
3. Earning the trust of millenials must be a priority. They are tomorrow’s decision-makers.
While trust in business in Latin America is high right now, attention must be paid to the younger generation whose trust is earned differently. As they become the next generation of decision-makers, business must engage with them through directly in order to continue to build and expand the trust that they have earned to date.
“Our audience is composed mainly of people between the ages of 14-24, so it is the millenials. MTV Latin American audiences trust NGOs more than companies and peer to peer trust is very important to MTV LATAM audiences,” Mario Cader-Frech from Viacom Media Network.
4. There are different, equally valid concepts of trust. Culture plays an important role in the varying levels of trust, from country to country.
“In contract performance, the Germans will stay closer to the contract, and the Italians do more of a relationship-thing. So, culture in our daily practice has big consequences on trust,” Jurg Zundel, from Caterpillar.
There are several, equally valid concepts of trust that are examined by various organizations. The World Economic Forum, for example, views it as the economic future of a company. The Transparency International index looks at it through the lens of corruption, and AON looks at whether Trade and Investment in emerging markets is safe. In human interaction, culture plays an important part that cannot be ignored.
5. Trust is a complex issue that must be re-examined, analyzed and evaluated constantly over the long term.
“It’s a fascinating study that we’ve been working on in partnership with Edelman for a long time now. The more I look at it, the more questions I have.” Cristina Aby-Azar, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Americas.
Figuring out what trust means and the state of trust in a region is no easy task. In fact, the events that have been held throughout the year, serve as a reminder that the topic of trust ignites vivid discussions, with different points of view and intellectual debate. This very fact underscores just how important this study has become and what’s in store. How Brazil performs over the next years will be especially important as the country enters into two of the world’s most important events, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
And, the most important perspective of all is perhaps that:
6. Trust is a license to lead. Latin America’s moment to lead is here now.
Latin America is poised for growth for so many different reasons. Trust is yet another upside for the region. In many developing countries, publics are skeptical of all institutions, but in Latin America trust levels are high. Most interestingly, trust in business is high and that means that people have given business the license to lead.
“In Latin America right now there is so much trust in business, so much hope. There is such a dramatic impact that business is having in the region that people are almost taking the surplus trust and giving it to business instead of to government,” Gail Becker, Chair, Canada, Latin America & U.S. Western Region.