Brand Trust: Consumers give thumbs up to product brands in India


Samsung Mobiles tops the charts, Tata slips a rank to fifth and Reliance is out of the top 20 most trusted brands

By Viveat Susan Pinto
It is not without reason that India has emerged as the second-largest smartphone market in the world after China. Mobile phones are one category that has seen brisk sales in the last few years even as consumer goods in general have seen a slowdown.

The result of this hectic buying activity is that consumers are acutely aware of what is good and not good in the market influencing brand trust and choice. This shows up in the latest edition of the Brand Trust Report, released by Mumbai-based TRA.

Samsung Mobiles has emerged as the country’s most trusted brand for the first time in the annual study indicating that this is where the interest of most Indians lie.

Its rise in the last two years, in fact, has been dramatic, jumping 377 positions in 2015 to emerge the second-most trusted brand in the country after LG. “This year LG has been pushed to the third spot after Sony, while Nokia is fourth in the top ten list and Tata fifth,” N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, said.


The Tata brand name has steadily declined in terms of trust in the last three years, going from third in 2014, then fourth in 2015 and fifth now. “Business groups will have to individually analyse why there is this drop in trust,” Chandramouli says. “But our analysis shows that consumer trust is a highly dynamic variable that can be influenced by negative news or a certain perception that a product is not up to the mark. In recent years, Tata’s struggles with the Nano, besides (the fact that) sales of its prized asset Jaguar Land Rover have suffered, could have influenced consumer trust,” Chandramouli says.

Tatas is not the only diversified group or conglomerate to move down the pecking order. Reliance has seen a steady decline in trust, moving from ninth in 2014 to fourteenth in 2015 and twenty-second in 2016. Godrej is the only key business group, which has maintained its position in the last two years at number nine.

Interestingly, Nestle’s Maggi, which was banned and recalled last year, appears to have put the past well behind it, with the brand ranking sixty-fifth on the list this year. This is a jump of 42 positions
over 2015, when it was ranked 107. In 2014, Maggi was at 87.

“Maggi’s rise indicates that if a consumer believes in the core attributes of a brand, it does not suffer a significant trust deficit despite a crisis. We did the fieldwork for the 2016 trust report between October and December 2015 – around the time Maggi was being relaunched. So the timing was apt. We went to 16 cities, talking to nearly 4,000 people, who belong to the salaried class, men and women, between 21 and 55 years, who are familiar with brands. If their ranking of Maggi is up then the brand has done something significant to bridge the trust deficit,” Chandramouli says.

  • At 131 Hindustan Unilever is 24 places above its 2015 rank. Dove at 15 and Lux at 17 are the only two brands from its stable to make it to the top 20
  • Even though global icon Apple makes it to the top 20, its rank has dropped three places to 16
  • Reliance is out of the top 20, drops 8 places to stand at 22
  • Nestle seems to have won the trust game against various government agencies, at 65, Maggi is 42 places higher than it was in 2015
  • One of the most remarkable gains on the trust scales is that of Patanjali. At 173, it has risen 403 spots from its position last year
  • Among celebrities, Amitabh Bachchan towers over his Bollywood colleagues at 250 but that is still 23 places lower than 2015
  • is at 267, 338 ranks higher than his spot in 2015; court cases and controversies seem to have worked in his favour


ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have pushed favourites such as LIC and SBI out of the top two positions in the banking and financial services cluster, which is a first this year, Chandramouli says. The two are among the new entrants in the Top 20 list along with FMCG brands Dove, Lux and Pepsi, besides sportswear major Puma. “The ones out of the Top 20 include Hewlett Packard, Bata, Amul, Philips and Dabur,” Chandramouli says. “Brand owners need to take cognisance of the fact that in a hyper competitive world, brand loyalty and trust can move away from their products quickly. You have to be on your feet all the time, staying in the consumer consciousness,” he says.

Ironically, Kingfisher, another beleaguered brand, thanks to the many travails of its now former owner Vijay Mallya, has not suffered. It leads the alcoholic beverages category in the report.

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