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Edelman Trust Barometer 2023: Pessimism and Polarisation

Published 25 January 2023

Author
3 min read

US consultancy Edelman has released its 23rd annual Trust Barometer, tracking consumer attitudes and perceptions of companies, governments, non-profits and media across 28 countries. As economic pessimism and distrust in political bodies rise, people are relying on business...

  • Penny Pessimism: Consumers are stressed about the economy, holding personal financial fears such as job loss (89%) and inflation (74%) in parallel with urgent societal worries like climate change (76%) and nuclear war (72%). Only 40% of respondents said they and their families would be better off in five years, a 10-point decline from 2022. Companies can build trust with pessimistic customers (who are looking towards the private sector to improve optimism) by supporting media outlets and politicians who strengthen the social fabric.

  • Believing in Business: The Trust Barometer found that 62% of consumers don’t believe their values match those of their political leaders, and business is “the only institution seen as competent and ethical”, being more trusted than governments in 22 of the 28 nations surveyed. These mindsets indicate that community involvement (such as taking a stand on climate change or economic inequality) will be key moving forward, as expectations rise for corporate executives.

  • Rising Polarisation: As we mentioned in Edelman 2022, societal distrust breeds polarisation. The survey revealed that 53% of respondents said their countries are more divided today than in the past. Consumers are more unwilling than ever to interact with someone who disagrees with their viewpoints – 80% would not live in the same neighbourhood as them, and another 80% wouldn’t want to have them as a co-worker.

  • Penny Pessimism: Consumers are stressed about the economy, holding personal financial fears such as job loss (89%) and inflation (74%) in parallel with urgent societal worries like climate change (76%) and nuclear war (72%). Only 40% of respondents said they and their families would be better off in five years, a 10-point decline from 2022. Companies can build trust with pessimistic customers (who are looking towards the private sector to improve optimism) by supporting media outlets and politicians who strengthen the social fabric.

  • Believing in Business: The Trust Barometer found that 62% of consumers don’t believe their values match those of their political leaders, and business is “the only institution seen as competent and ethical”, being more trusted than governments in 22 of the 28 nations surveyed. These mindsets indicate that community involvement (such as taking a stand on climate change or economic inequality) will be key moving forward, as expectations rise for corporate executives.

  • Rising Polarisation: As we mentioned in Edelman 2022, societal distrust breeds polarisation. The survey revealed that 53% of respondents said their countries are more divided today than in the past. Consumers are more unwilling than ever to interact with someone who disagrees with their viewpoints – 80% would not live in the same neighbourhood as them, and another 80% wouldn’t want to have them as a co-worker.

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This article is an example of Stylus' expert research into how trends are evolving. Get in touch so someone from the Stylus team can explain how your business can harness the power of trends and insights like these – and more.

Want to know more?

This article is an example of Stylus' expert research into how trends are evolving. Get in touch so someone from the Stylus team can explain how your business can harness the power of trends and insights like these – and more.