Why Don't We Trust Tech Brands?

We spend thousands of dollars on them and countless hours tweaking their performance, but that doesn't seem to mean we trust our favourite gadget builders and software houses.

Picture by adilsonb

Research company Millward Brown recently released a report based on its TrustR Index, which ranks how much consumers trust leading brands and whether they would recommend them to others. As Mumbrella reports, there's just one tech brand in the top 10 for Australia -- mobile phone company Nokia (which was the top-rated brand in many other countries studied). You wouldn't expect such a list to be dominated by tech, but it's something of a surprise to see no mention of Apple, a company where reputation is a key marketing strategy.

So why does tech rate so poorly? There are a couple of possible explanations (leaving aside whether you think the methodology for this particular research is a reliable indicator in the first place):

Stuff goes wrong. Toothpaste invariably does what it's supposed to. The same, alas, is rarely true of technology, where things going wrong are the order of the day. Even brand that enjoy a reputation for reliability (such as Apple) have messed plenty of people up with an ill-considered iTunes update. That's undoubtedly inevitable -- software is a lot more complex than instant coffee -- but it's going to change the way people experience a particular product, and whether they'd recommend it to others.

Lack of emotional connection to the brand. While the typical Lifehacker reader is heavily into tech, for many people it's simply a tool to get work done. As such, it's less likely to come unbidden into their head when they're asked about what brands they trust. (It's telling in this context that Nokia, still the world's biggest-selling phone brand by some margin, rates so highly, given the personal nature of much mobile communication.)

Infrequency of purchase. In the case of high-value gear like PCs and smart phones, we might use them constantly, but we only purchase them relatively rarely. Many of the brands in the top 10 are supermarket staples that we have to buy on a regular basis, leading to a different relationship -- and one where 'trust' might be more important than more hard-nosed research.

Do you trust your favourite tech brands, or do you make your buying decisions in a more purposeful way? Share your strategies in the comments.

Consumers most likely to trust and recommend Colgate says survey [Mumbrella]

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


    The only tech company I trust is the good people who make the excellent software and hardware powering Toyota's braking systems.

    There's more to trust than reliability. Apple might be known (somewhat) for that, but there are other reasons not to trust them. What good is a reliable device that is locked down to preserve the vendor's interests?

    What I don't get is why people contine to buy things from companies they don't trust. I think it's influenced by marketing hype, and a "can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. It's a mentality that I don't share. Apple, Sony and Microsoft, for example, have all done scummy things to their customers over the years, and haven't had a penny from me since.

    Ditto here, Microsoft and Palm have done their dash with me thanks to my now basically defunct A$800 POS outdated door stopper, should never have jumped the Nokia ship in the first place. Live and learn !

    I think the issue is one of earning trust. Most technology companies have done nothing to earn their clients trust in the past 10 years or so. Apple batteries explode or need to be replaced by them. Sony disables PS2 emulation on the PS3 for no apparent reason. Things go wrong, it's true.

    BUT, when companies have proprietry standards, and when things cost a whole lot more then they logically should, when warranties aren't very long and interoperability is low and marketing drives terrible technology decisions, people's confidence in brands is hurt. Then, when reliability comes into the mix, the brands are already damaged and have no good will to draw on.

    I think too, some of the blame can be placed on the average consumer misunderstanding technology. I have some otherwise very intelligent friends whose attitude to tech is to wave their hands and say "That's MUCH too confusing for me!" and stop listening... It's their excuse to not have to learn. So when they go to buy an MP3 player with a "1000" song capacity, then try to store 1000 1 hour long podcasts, they get frustrated at the device because they don't understand fundamental things like its capacity. Yes, manufacturers are partly to blame for not being more open with capacities and clearer with meanings, but some of THAT blame is on consumers too... If the average consumer had a good handle on what a gigabyte *meant* in storage terms, they wouldn't need average song capacities instead.

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