When brand trust is tested
Start date: 4 September 2017
The visitor economy could well be a fragile one when built upon ephemeral experiences. Destinations and visitor attractions work hard to create brands that have a more enduring relationship with the visitor economy. Theme park resorts, as destinations, create brands that are built upon stories of excitement and escape. For these to be sustainable there are fundamental underlying characteristics. When some of the experiences are based around spine thrilling rides, visitors are relying upon the health and safety operations of the park. They trust the brand to perform with their best interests at their heart. This paper will explore what happens when that trust is tested.
Consumer trust is important to any brand as it helps build and cement the customer-firm relationship engendering positive word of mouth, increased loyalty and the potential for additional income from cross-selling and up-selling. However, a series of recent scandals and misdeeds has resulted in widespread erosion of the trust held in many well-known brands. To survive, individual firms must repair the trust that consumers have in their brands. This can be a huge challenge requiring the efforts of not only the individual firm, but a concerted effort by the industry.
The research that this paper is based upon adopts an integrative trust repair framework proposed by Bachmann et al. (2015). This creates a template that identifies the actions that stakeholders can take to repair trust and how these actions have influenced consumer attitudes towards and trust in the company brand and the wider industry sector taking into account different causes of trust damage. This paper focuses on the theme park sector and the Smiler accident at Alton Towers, UK, in particular. It is based upon the qualitative data collected from consumer focus groups. The findings were generated from a template analysis using NVivo. The results are compared with those from other service sectors (financial services and retail) to test the appropriateness and fit of the conceptual framework.
Reference Bachmann, R., Gillespie, N. and Priem, R., 2015. Repairing Trust in Organizations and Institutions: Toward a Conceptual Framework. Organization Studies, 36 (9), 1123-1142.