subway logoBy Mitchell Young

SANTA ANA, CA: The Values Institute [TVI] released the results of the 2017 National Most Trustworthy Brands Survey, showing Milford based Subway at the top of the quick serve restaurant [QSR] category. TVI says its “a first-ever national survey and peer review effort measuring the trustworthiness of the nation’s largest brands in seven key industries.”  Wendy’s landed in second place, followed by Starbucks, Burger King, Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

In addition to the QSR, the survey, measured how well 40 of the largest U.S. brands “connect with their customers,” and found that hotels and electronics are the country’s most trusted brand categories, while auto insurers and mobile communications rank lowest on the public trust spectrum.

In addition to Subway, other brands to receive most-trustworthy honors include Amazon (retail), Microsoft (electronics), Southwest (airlines), Marriott (Hotels), AT&T (mobile services) and Geico (auto insurance).

TVI is a non-profit a social science research entity housed at Southern California’s Amusement Park advertising and integrated communications agency.

The Values Institute (TVI) has conducted five previous regional surveys, the 2017 National Most Trustworthy Brands Survey used a proprietary online survey developed by TVI and The Center for Brand Values Communication and Research at California State University, Fullerton (CBVCR) to rank the six largest national brands in seven key categories.  

In a phone interview Mark Weinfeld, Research Director said the survey grew out of the agency’s work “helping Fortune 500 clients and nonprofits build long-term relationships with their constituents based on shared values and socially responsible behavior.” Adding,

TVI reached its conclusion about Subway by using a grading system and what Weinfeld says is a “diagnostic trust survey” of 1400 consumers, that included both direct and indirect questions that help the researchers determine how the consumer views the brand.

Total “trustworthiness” is a calculation of five components, each weighted by the researchers including: Consistency, Competency, Candor, Connectivity, Concern and Connection.

In addition to overall ranking, the survey found that Subway had the highest category scores in every area except for Connection where Wendy’s edged them out by a marginal 0.08 points.

While McDonald’s is the largest and most financially successful company in the category, it had the lowest trust score, according to Weinfeld, “pointing to consumers’ preference for fresh and healthy foods. “The survey shows that the McDonald’s brand “has some work to do in building brand trust with the public.”

“While McDonalds has made some significant attempts to regain trust after the negativity generated by movies like Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation, they remain the “poster-child of unhealthy” in most consumers’ minds,” Weinfeld, said,  adding, “trust can be lost in a minute, but this is really proof that it can take years or even decades to regain – which just hasn’t happened yet for McDonalds.”

Weinfeld said that he opposite can be true, explaining that when a company has a “reservoir of trust” it can withstand a serious problem, “we can see that, with Subway and the problem it had with Jared, they still have maintained the trust of consumers,” adding, “Subway has done an incredible job, as a healthy alternative - in a category that is maligned.”

Weinfeld added that the survey shows, “Subway excels in consistency and competence, understanding what consumers want and how they want it. Subway’s future looks bright, and is telling of where the QSR category is at with its consumers.”

While Subway led the QSR pack, the most outstanding company in the survey was the online retailer Amazon. According to Jason Teven, Ed.D., professor of human communication studies at California State University, Fullerton, and CBVCR director, Amazon, the overall most trustworthy brand in this survey, received the highest score in the “joy” outcome categories of loyalty, satisfaction and trusty. “Amazon’s success in the joy categories is effectively the holy grail of brand ambassadorship. That’s because satisfied customers are much more likely to advocate for the brand they love, their products, services and website.”