Gaining the trust of customers is a difficult task. This is particularly even more difficult now that the shopping process power has shifted from the retailer to the consumer.

Ian Wong, associate partner of IBM global business services research, presented a recent study by IBM Institute of Business Value ‘Winning Over the Empowered Consumer: Why Trust Matters’ at Retail 2012 Exhibition and Conference.

The study revealed in 2011, 50 per cent of people still trusted the opinions of family and friends first and only 13 per cent said retailers and manufacturers. But by 2012 that number increased where 26 per cent of people trust retailers and manufacturers.

“Technology is changing the way consumers relate to retailers. A mobile for example changes the balance of power between the retailer and me because I now have more access to information in my hands than store associates may have in a store,” Wong said.

The study also revealed when consumers were asked if they would share personal data for the most part people said no. However, when consumers were offered a reward they were then more likely to share data, explaining the reasons for the introduction of loyalty programs such as Flyby’s My5.

“Trust is changing in the area of social technology. Coming with trust there’s a willingness to share data, which is why there’s a proliferation of loyalty programs.”

Wong also noted trust is also about understanding the social media sphere, which can help retailers understand a group of customers.

“Understanding the customer on different levels requires the need to collect behavioural data. This means asking questions about how the data that is collected will help drive my marketing strategy.”