The key to successful promotions is whether consumers trust a brand, argues Ben Craker of Fotorama

Four ways for brands to build trust with consumers


Research shows that the key to successful promotions is whether consumers trust a brand, argues Ben Craker of Fotorama PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Supermarkets these days are like Aladdin’s caves, filled with thousands of different products. The shelves are groaning with promotions, prizes and chances to win. It can be mind boggling enough for a consumer to make the right decision – but for a brand, it’s absolutely crucial.

To try and establish what consumers are thinking during those critical decision making moments, we recently conducted some research which highlighted the existence of a group we have dubbed the Savvy Cynics, which we have explored in a new report.

Our research found that 70% of consumers have entered a free draw as part of an on-pack promotion.  A third of respondents in the Savvy Cynics shopper marketing report stated that promotions were more likely to make them purchase a product.

But the question in every brand manager’s mind is how to make sure their promotion is chosen? Our experience and research suggests it’s about more than having the best prize or even the best product — it’s about trust.

In 2014 the Guardian asked the question what factor influences customers to make a commitment to your brand and keep coming back for more? And the answer was trust.

Trust takes time to build but it can be broken in an instant. Our research revealed that 95% of ‘Savvy Cynic’ participants share their bad experiences with a company or brand.

Based around the research we have identified four ways that brands can build trust in their promotional marketing, so helping cultivate brand loyalty, confidence and campaign success.

1 Simplicity

Is the campaign clear? Is the benefit clear?

Do consumers understand exactly what they’re getting, whether it’s a prize entry or a money-off coupon?

Shopper marketing can be challenging, and it’s a complex balancing act between ensuring that consumers are satisfied while brands see return on their investment. Campaigns need to be simple and fun. Sometimes the easiest, oldest tricks in the book win out. A third of people like to get a money off coupon for their next purchase, on their packaging… could it get any easier than that?

2 Language

Does the language a brand uses make them more trustworthy? They must be clear and concise about what customers will get by using language carefully throughout their promotional marketing campaign.

Clarity is key. Don’t try and ‘trick’ people with complex language and expressions or complicated offers. That just generates confusion, creates reservations in consumers’ minds about your brand and ultimately may turn them off your product altogether.

Where brands ‘guarantee’ something in a promotion, they must actually ‘guarantee’ it! Be careful what you say: in a prize promotion, you should be offering a chance or an opportunity to, and you should make it clear how many prizes there are in total – so you can mention the big headline prize but qualify it with something like ‘or win 1 of 100,000 other prizes’

3 Clear Instructions

Maybe it’s a gift with purchase or maybe it’s a competition involving tricky questions that test brand loyalty; but whatever form the promotional campaign takes, it must be clear to the consumer what the ‘added value’ for them is and what they have to do to qualify for the chance to enjoy it. Downloading receipts, collecting coupons, entering codes online or aligning with events — whatever the mechanic it needs to be clear to the consumer what steps they need to take.

4 Joined up marketing for brand stability

Brand stability refers to the steadfastness of a brand in the face of social and market changes and influences. It is, of course, important to roll with changes in the big, wide world; but it’s just as important to stay steadfast to who the brand is and what it stands for. From everyday marketing communications to one-off campaigns, messaging needs to be consistent in order for consumers to truly get to grips with who you are.

It’s not rocket science. By breaking down the promotion into its simplest fundamentals you can keep your message clear and deliver against your objectives for each campaign. Think about the basics: audience, objectives, measurement and your brand’s USP.

When the face and future of a brand hangs so precariously on maintaining trust with consumers, it’s imperative that each and every sales promotion is neat, simple and by the book, to ensure no brand value is lost through any ‘dubious’ promotions.

Customers will vote with their money and one iffy campaign lasts long in the memory. The 2016 Walkers ‘Holiday’ campaign was splashed all over the press this year for example.

Deliver on your promises!

As the experts at, who understand well the importance of trust to businesses, explain: “credibility is probably the most commonly thought-of trust component, but it is only one… Believable, credentialed… and having a track record… are traits we most consciously look for when screening vendors.”

A track record is hugely important and every campaign speaks volumes about your brand. Done right, each campaign is a step towards greater trust between brand and consumer. As The Guardian said in the article that accompanied its 2014 research, “for those brands trying to win trust, it is a step-by-step process; but the pillars of credibility – reliability and intimacy – are a good place to start.’

So get personal. Create intimacy with your consumers by targeting their needs and preferences and rewarding their loyalty. Why not develop a campaign around repeat purchases? Or target the likes of particular demographics?  Even as early as the planning phase, brands should think about what part trust plays in their campaign – and how they can improve it at every stage.

Ben Craker is Head of Risk at Fotorama, part of the Sodexo family. Fotorama are Promotional Marketing specialists with over 30 years of experience in planning and launching campaigns that help clients to increase profit, brand awareness and customer engagement. Its dedicated team is equipped with creative talent and industry knowledge which helps them handle everything from mechanic creation and sourcing to winner management, in order to produce spectacular promotions that deliver on budget from brief to purchase. To find out more contact

Fotorama (part of the Sodexo Family) is headline sponsor of the IPM 30 Under 30 Programme 2017.



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