The art of successful building of trust in Indian Brands

Manu Parashar, an Indian author has got a very crisp message on building Trust. This article is an attempt to pick up his key points and relate them to the Indian context, where Trust building has been very successful. The discussion is around the key learnings, in some detail.


India is a big laboratory to the world, as far as FMCG products are concerned. There is so much of wealth of information from the real world. When such experiences are put into some conceptual ideas, the emerging mosaic of knowledge becomes very solid indeed. Taken from an article titled "How to build consumer trust in brands" by Mr. Manu Parashar, published in the Indian Management ( a monthly journal of the All India Management Association), issue dated November 1995, pages 34 to 35. the following quotes are inspiring and apt for igniting any discussion on Indian brands.

Now, the quotes. Mr. Paraskar talks about "Competence Dimension". "This forms the base of any trusting relationship. A brand needs to have a set of functional characteristics that make it effective for a customer."

The second dimension is the "Behavioral Dimension". "Not only does the brand have to be competent in performing its task, but it also needs to be consistent. If a brand behaves consistently and fulfills its promise over a period of time, then it becomes trustworthy to the customer. This dimension develops on the base of the competence dimension. "

The third dimension is the "Affective dimension". Here the customer develops an element of attachment to or an emotional bond with the brand. It is the degree to which the brand is believed to want to do good to the consumer" Examples abound in India.

We will discuss all the three dimensions in one go and look up for examples in a) Trust Building in FMCG products b) Trust building in the automobile industry c) Trust building in the service industry d) Trust building in the education industry and e) Trust building by the Government.

Trust building in FMCG products

Hamam, the bath soap from Hindustan Unilever is one example of success in all the three dimensions. Its competence to weave the health story has been very good. The behavioral dimension comes from the building of confidence and empowerment of women dimension and the emotional attachment comes from the repeated stress on self-confidence. It has a very good memory recall, and the empowered woman concept is very creative advertising.

Ditto for Asian Paints that has a range to attract the rural customer. There is this very effective advertisement is in Tamil, with a little humor in it. The advertisement straddles all three dimensions very effortlessly. The emphasis on durability is built in the background, where the prospective bride's father remarks that the house was painted three years ago and the daughter is now married and has a child too. When everyone is puzzled, the gentleman points out that he referred to his eldest daughter. The competence dimension gets immediately married to the behavioral and affective dimensions. Asian Paints stands for Quality. Always. The advertisement merely reinforces the Trust in the brand.

Voltas, with its "all temperature AC" is also shown as one that saves money, since its technical features facilitate that. Voltas has reinforced the Quality dimension and has taken care of the rest, through creative advertising. Since the savings are real, the product is quite effective on all three dimensions. Amul towers over all brands in ice cream. Its memory recall is simply great. It's emotional connect is famous for its ability to talk about current topics. There is humor no doubt, but it tells you a story. Voltas and Amil reinforce the key factor in Trust Building: consistency, which comes out of being wedded to world-class quality.

Trust building in the automobile industry

Some years ago, when the global giant called Honda broke up with Hero, the pundits virtually wrote off the latter. Today, it is still the market leader and Hero Motorcorp as it is called is a force to reckon with. Its products are also exported to many countries. The other two big names, Bajaj Auto and TVS Motors have their own good products and are fighting for market shares. There is perfect competition. The three Indian companies have a big tale to tell. All the three have played the three dimensions very well, with the competence dimension being dominant. In the case of TVS Jupiter, the more miles per liter was sought to be emphasized with Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador. All three companies have performed very well in building Trust. The world-class quality is a big plus and this makes the customers very happy, which is taking care of the Behavioral Dimension and the Affective dimension.

Similarly, TVS Excel moped still rules most of rural South India. It is a very durable vehicle, ideal for short distances. It is often called "Namma Ooru Vandi" ( our good local vehicle). The very good quality, shown in the background of rural South India, particularly Tamil Nadu, takes care of the Behavioral Dimension and the Affective Dimension. It should be noted that this is the number one vehicle used to transport goods in rural South India. Particularly, the flower and vegetable and fruit vendors like it very much because it is very easy to handle on rough roads.

Trust building in the service industry

Before launching his own brand, Mr. Kishore Biyani of the Big Bazaar fame made a thorough study of the highly successful Saravana Stores in Chennai. Armed with the knowledge that the discount model works in India, Big Bazaar, to this day, is the most sophisticated answer to the traditional Kirana fellow. Consistency, reliability, and availability, combined with discounts have taken care of the three dimensions. It is India's number one retailer, where the customers can shop in air-conditioned comfort. The Competence comes from repeatedly satisfying a very high range of customers over and over again. The other two dimensions follow this dimension as the value-for-money is the key and the customers are satisfied. Of course, the savings is an emotional connection with every single customer.

Sundaram Finance from Chennai stands for integrity and honesty. The reason why over Rs. 2300 crores is in fixed deposits with this giant of an FMCG. It is the market leader and knows what it does. It's NPA is still a measly 1% or less. Sundaram Finance chose to stay away from starting a bank. It could have easily done so. It refused as it wanted to have a larger focus in what it is doing now. Sterling Resorts is another big name in the service industry. This brand is highly respected even today. Honeymoon couples always prefer the safety and comfort of these resorts and are ready to pay a premium for it. Trust Building is complete when the three dimensions are taken care of. Sterling Resorts has been consistent in this game.

Trust building in education

It is not without reason that there are big brands in higher education today. Symbiosis Pune is a vast University by itself. Narsee Monjee is another in Mumbai. VIT in Vellore, SRM in Chennai and Amity in New Delhi, Amritha in Coimbatore and Kochi, are all brands nurtured through trust. There is a huge amount of reinvestment in each of these brands. There is massive infrastructure and the standard of the faculty and students are so good. The rest, as they say, is history.

These big players have consistently built Trust as they have very good competencies. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The very good placements take care of the competence dimension and the infrastructure and placements take care of the Behavioral and Affective Dimension. There are other big brands. Loyola of Chennai. St.Stephen's from New Delhi. Christ University, Bangalore. MCC from Chennai. St. Xavier's Mumbai. TISS from Mumbai and XLRI from Jamshedpur are superb for HR education. The research facilities are also very good. Brands are not built in a day in education. They take decades to build. But once in place, these brands can simply take off and go to the next level. It is already happening. They quickly adapt to changing times. Consistency is key in such endeavors and the players have always scored well. Trust is the natural end result. On a very consistent basis.

Trust building by the Government

The Government of India is trying to build a brand. The "Make in India" is not a mere slogan. It is a call for action. In the Railways, in the Ministry of urban transport and in so many Ministries, the task of trust building is on. In AP, the Chief Minister is now making the Capital city, Amaravathi, that is being built, as a world-class place in terms of planning and execution, The game is on. Though the Governments have a long way to go, the process of Trust building has at least begun. The Competency dimension is being strengthened to some extent. This is itself big news.


Trust building in brands is a very big topic. The aforesaid examples have been anchored in the context of a conceptual framework. The examples that have been very successful have been discussed in some detail. One does hope that the successful brands will continue their task of Trust Building.


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