Brands cannot live on a good reputation alone; they need to earn consumers’ trust. Analysis in a new report [pdf] from Edelman shows that while two-thirds (67%) of global consumers say that while a good reputation will inspire them to try a product, they will stop buying that product if they cannot trust the company behind the product.

That being said, only one-third (34%) of consumers trust most of the brands they use. While the level of trust in brands they use are within the average across age groups and gender, trust varies significantly across income levels. Only 29% of those consumers in the lower 25% income bracket trust the brands they buy. This is compared to the 38% of consumers in the top 25% income bracket.

In a time when brand ethics are an influential factor in many buying decisions and there is a customer expectation that companies shold have a positive impact on society instead of just being focused on profit, Edleman’s report found that more than half (56%) of the respondents surveyed say that too many brands use societal issues as a marketing ploy to sell more of their product.

This skepticism makes it difficult for brands to get their messages heard and, more importantly, trusted. But in what will likely be good news for those selling ad space, the research did find that if consumers are exposed to a brand’s message across a number of channels, the trust in the message strengthens.

For respondents who engaged with a message on just one channel, only 32% had a strong message trust (8-9 in a 9 point scale) with 34% had a weak message trust (6-7). The strong message trust goes up to 87% of respondents for those who engaged with a message across six different channels.

Wider exposure to a brand’s message is thought to build trust.