A new report by Morning Consult showed more than 7 in 10 U.S. adults trust food and beverage companies, a number that outpaces all other industries.
Food and beverage is also the industry most susceptible to substitutions, meaning food and beverage brands can easily lose customers if they lose their trust.
Morning Consult’s 2022 Most Trusted Brands report showed 72% of U.S. consumers said they trust food and beverage companies—a number higher than any other industry. Health care took the No. 2 spot on the list, garnering trust from 64% of consumers, followed by financial services (63%), travel and hospitality (62%), automotive and mobility (61%), technology (60%), retail and e-commerce (60%), and media and entertainment (45%).
Trust in food and beverage varied among age groups, the reported showed. The vast majority (84%) of Baby Boomers reported trust in food and beverage. That number dropped to 67% of millennials, and again to 62% of Gen Z adults. Younger generations, the report explained, are skeptical of marketing efforts by brands and tend to hold brands to higher standards compared to older generations.
Levels of trust also varied based on income, with higher-income households reporting higher levels of trust in the industry overall. More than 8 in 10 people (82%) with an annual household income of at least $100,000 said they trust food and beverage businesses. Less than 7 in 10 people (69%) with an annual income of less than $50,000 said the same.
The survey also explored factors that contribute to brand loyalty in food and beverage (i.e., what makes consumers stick with one brand versus its competitors).
It’s no surprise that price tops the list, especially as prices at the grocery store continue to skyrocket amid rising global food prices and rising inflation. Consumers are also keeping their eyes on quality, which was the second-highest factor affecting brand loyalty, and they value products and brands that consistently deliver on their promises.
While older generations, such as Baby Boomers, are largely united across the top three factors, younger generations are not. Gen Z adults and millennials place high value on good customer service, sustainability, a good reputation and good customer reviews.
Food and beverages brands beware: A high level of trust doesn’t translate to unbreakable brand loyalty. More than 1 in 3 consumers (34%) have switched food or beverage brands when trust was lost—a number that also outpaces other categories. In addition, 25% of consumers said they will never again use a food or beverage brand that lost their trust.
What makes consumers ditch a food or beverage brand? The top reason consumers lost trust in a food or beverage brand was a bad customer service experience, which was reported by 32% of adults. A decline in product quality was reported by 29% as the catalyst that caused them to lose trust in a brand, followed by disagreement with a cause supported by a brand (22%).
There is good news: 31% of consumers would consider using a food or beverage brands that lost their trust.
Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019.