Survey firm Roy Morgan has been measuring consumers’ trust and distrust in brands since 2018. The results from its 2023 Risk Monitor survey measure levels of trust and distrust of around 1,000 brands over 26 industries. The results of the survey have been released, as well as a list of the top ten most trusted and most distrusted brands.
Australia’s most trusted (and distrusted) brands have been revealed
Optus takes the top spot for the most distrusted brand in the year prior to June 2023. The data breach last year had an immediate negative impact, with about 10 million customers (approximately 40% of the Australian population) having their personal data compromised.
Optus claimed that no financial information was retained by the cyber criminals, but later admitted that personal information such as names, emails, and postal addresses, as well as passport and driver's license information, has been compromised. Even though there’s evidence that consumer distrust has eased, Roy Morgan still recorded high monthly levels of distrust with the carrier.
Optus stole the top spot from Meta, the owners of Facebook, Instagram and the newly released Threads. The distrust likely comes from Meta being fined over a series of data breaches last year. Other companies in the top five include Newscorp, which publishes The Australian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Herald Sun, and telecommunications company Telstra.
Top ten most trusted and distrusted brands list. Image: Roy Morgan Australia.
Arrows indicate ranking change from March 2023.
Telstra came in third on the most distrusted brands list, making telecommunications the most distrusted industry among Aussie consumers.
Medibank’s data breach in October of 2022 also affected the health insurer’s position in the survey. Distrust still lingers among its members, with the breach causing the information of up to 9.7 million of its former and current customers to be accessed by cybercriminals.
In light of the Optus and Medibank breach, the government announced earlier this year there would be a major rewrite of Australia’s 40-year-old privacy laws. The proposed changes mean individuals could have greater control over how their data is used by organisations, as well as where and how it was obtained.
Additionally, individuals could have the right to request personal information be destroyed if they choose to stop using the organisation’s services, or the information is of sensitive nature.
Woolworths, Coles, and Bunnings retained the top three spots in the survey, which all won awards for their trustworthy practices in 2022.
“Distrust makes a brand fragile and is a powerful driver in the decisions which consumers make. Brands need to be aware of the ongoing dangers that distrust presents, with lingering distrust a significant risk,” Chief Executive of Roy Morgan, Michelle Levine said.
She reiterated that while companies can see small increases in trust, residual distrust “does not just vanish”.
Data breaches are a global issue for businesses and consumers alike, and can seriously affect the trust people place in an organisation. According to VPN service SurfShark’s recent study, Australia is among the top ten most-breached countries in the second quarter of 2023.