Trust in brands may be eroded as awareness of misinformation increases

By our News Team | 2023

Researchers conclude that the prevalence of misinformation may cause consumers to develop mistrust mindsets that impact their behaviour.

Academics from Cardiff University in Wales and Stanford University in the US have reviewed current marketing research focused on the consequences of misinformation spread. 

Their study, titled ‘Between brand attacks and broader narratives: How direct and indirect misinformation erode consumer trust’, is published in the academic journal ‘Current Opinion in Psychology’.

Brand Trust

Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels

The research team distinguishes between direct and indirect misinformation. Forms of direct brand-related misinformation include fake news, where false information is intentionally distributed online and is designed to mimic the format of legitimate news sources, as well as fake reviews – which is where buyers are paid by companies to post favourable appraisals of products to the detriment of other companies.


The study concludes that when consumers are exposed to direct misinformation, this could exert influence over their decision-making, regardless of whether or not they believe it.


Even when exposed to indirect misinformation, when it is not related to brands but linked to other issues or events, researchers say consumers may experience confusion, doubt and a general sense of vulnerability to the external world which could affect their spending habits.


More to learn about misinformation consequences for consumers


“The outcomes of recent political events have generated significant academic interest around the issue of misinformation spread, its drivers, and its consequences. The impact of this phenomenon extends beyond the political arena, but our understanding of it on consumer behaviour is in the early stages,” says Dr Giandomenico Di Domenico, a lecturer in marketing and strategy at Cardiff University’s Business School.


“We saw [sports footwear and apparel brand] New Balance face considerable backlash on social media after misinformation circulated that the brand was closely aligned with far-right [political] movements. 


“Similarly, [pharmaceutical multinational] Eli Lilly’s stock price fell by 4.37 % after a fake Twitter account impersonating the pharmaceutical brand falsely announced that insulin would be given away for free.”


He adds: “As consumers become increasingly aware of the pervasiveness and dynamics of misinformation, they may develop mistrust mindsets and mental models that will impact their behaviour. 


“A greater understanding of the consequences of misinformation spread from a marketing perspective is therefore essential.”

You can read more about the research here.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.