Last week global PR firm Edelman released its 15th annual Trust Barometer study, which measures overall consumer feelings toward government, media, NGOs and each business sector. The study found that trust is generally down across all segments.

Canada saw a larger decrease in trust of business and media when compared to the study's global survey results. In fact, worldwide overall trust held steady.

Of particular interest is Canadians' trust in recent electronic and mobile payments developments, which is a sentiment reflected across the world.

Electronic and mobile payments ranked the highest with 69% of respondents reporting that they trust these technological developments.

However, when respondents' answers were compared between developing nations or developed nations there was a distinct difference in trust levels for electronic and mobile payments.

In Canada, the lower level of trust with regards to business translates into a higher demand for regulation in particular industries. Canadian respondents felt there was not enough regulation in every industry they were asked about.

Something more troubling about the survey were the responses to questions about innovation, particularly regarding the speed of change and the reasons for innovating. Many Canadians feel that businesses are innovating for the wrong reasons and are doing it too quickly - 53% of respondents believed the pace of development and change in business was too fast.

How Can Businesses Change This Perception?

When consumers don't trust why a business or industry is making a decision, it's time for introspection. Edelman's report does a good job of providing solutions to this lack of trust and recommends a renewed focus on five key categories: integrity, engagement, product/services, purpose and operations. The two categories Edelman highlights as most important are engagement and integrity, emphasizing the need for open communication around business functions, taking responsibility to address issues or crises, having open business practices and listening to customer feedback and needs.

With Canadians placing large amounts of trust into recent electronic and mobile payments developments, it's imperative that companies continue to sow openness, transparency, and strong communications to promote valued products, consumer satisfaction and continuous business growth.

Business, media, and government need the public's trust to function effectively. With the acceleration of technology and innovation comes the need for consumer confidence to drive prosperity and growth.

Check out the rest of Edelman's Trust Barometer study.

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