"You can trust me": An examination of trust-in-the-brand advertising appeals

Fuan Li, Florida International University


Using trust-in-the-brand appeals in advertising has been a very common practice However, research has yet to examine the effectiveness of such appeals. Can the use of trust appeals in advertising enhance a product's trustworthiness and help the advertiser gain consumers' trust? Might such appeals lead to more favorable attitudes toward the advertised brand? Given the absence of research that speaks to these questions, this dissertation attempts to fill this void by exploring persuasion outcomes of using trust appeals. Specifically, this research aims to assess whether the use of trust appeals affects persuasion; explicate how such appeals may work; anticipate when an ad containing trust appeals may be more or less effective; and finally conduct and report the results of preliminary empirical tests. A conceptual model is offered in the dissertation describing how trust appeals may affect persuasion outcomes. It is proposed that using trust advertising appeals will result in more trust-related thinking, enhance the perceived trustworthiness of the advertised brand, and finally lead to more favorable brand attitudes and trial intentions. This dissertation also examines the differential effectiveness of alternative trust appeals. Elaborate trust appeals that provide substantiation for trust are expected to perform better than simple trust appeals. An implicit elaborate trust appeal is anticipated to outperform an explicit elaborate appeal. Two experiments were conducted. Including a trust appeal in an ad enhanced the perceived trustworthiness of the advertised brand which, in turn, led to more favorable brand attitudes and greater trial intentions compared to a similar ad without the trust appeal. The results also support the proposed mediating role of perceived trust. The empirical test speaking to the hypothesized differential effect of alternative trust appeals provides support for marketing practitioners' efforts in seeking the most effective use of such appeals. Evidence was obtained in the second study demonstrating that an elaborate trust appeal worked more effectively than a simple trust appeal. Contrary to the expectation, this persuasion advantage held regardless of whether the elaborate appeal was in an explicit form or an implicit form.

Subject Area

Marketing|Mass media|Social psychology

Recommended Citation

Li, Fuan, ""You can trust me": An examination of trust-in-the-brand advertising appeals" (1999). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9937652.