The reTRUST Framework is the first conceptual model applied in academia for obtaining and maintaining consumer trust. reTRUST provides a structured way of analyzing the consumer experience and understanding how brands fit into the overall competitive picture. The reTRUST Framework is a proprietary persuasion model designed by Clicksuasion Labs to target consumers via trust and loyalty. The reTRUST Framework has seven elements (1) remarkable, (2) experiential, (3) transparency, (4) reciprocity, (5) utility, (6) social status, and (7) timeliness. Depending on the strength of these elements, leaders could craft a customer or user experience that is actionable, sustainable, and relevant.
Definition: A remarkable marketing tactic is bold, memorable, and significantly differentiates itself from all competitors, and alternative products and services.
Example: A blue service van that transports five people wearing blue overalls may appear to be standard, normal, or boring. Whereas, a pink- or tye-dye painted service van that transports five people wearing pink- or tye-dye overalls may appear to be memorable because it is not traditional; therefore, the touchpoint holds more salience with the consumer.
Case: Reese’s sought to identify the most disliked element of Halloween. The research team found one consistent answer: undesirable candy. To mitigate the most disliked portion of the holiday and to provide an enhanced customer experience, the Reese’s team created the Reese’s Candy Converter. The Reese’s Candy Converter is a vending machine with an input slot and an output slot. The input slot is designed to insert the undesirable candy. Based on the weight of the undesirable candy entered into the machine, the user would receive an equal weight of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups through the output slot, which created a remarkable and memorable experience for users.
Definition: An experiential marketing tactic combines entertainment, value, and emotional relevance.
Example: Image you’re sitting on the couch when you receive a notification on your smartphone. The notification mentions, “your product has shipped”. This common, yet expected notification is likely to increase positive cognitive activity that aligns with happiness; however, the notification is overused and often categorized as noise. A brand could increase positive cognitive activity by revising the notification to mention: “your order has shipped early”, which is likely to elicit a positive emotional response and be memorable.
Case: A customer might try on a pair of jeans when shopping for a pair of pants. The customer is likely to choose a pant size that is similar to the size they are currently wearing; however, designer and retailer American Eagle labels their pant sizes one size smaller than traditional sizing. The reframing of the pant sizes gives the customer excitement that they fit into a smaller size; therefore, the emotional relevance is a more confident and more loyal consumer.
Definition: Transparency is the sharing of internal processes that may or may not be industry standards, yet offer an inside look into the brand; increases the consumer’s willingness to trust, and decreases the pain of paying because the customer likely perceives there is a connection between themselves and the brand beyond the purchase.
Example: Brands have a plethora of internal processes and procedures that are often ignored as bureaucracy and not a relevant customer-facing element of the brand experience. Elements that are often overlooked as relevant to building trust include the behind-the-scenes, day-to-day operations, or internal processes which may include a 99-point inspection, 15-point checklist, or quality assurance when delivering the product to the consumer.
Case: In the spring of 2009, a YouTube video of Domino’s workers went viral. An employee at a store in North Carolina filmed a coworker putting cheese up his nose and adding snot to a sandwich. The video prank led the health department to shut down the restaurant temporarily and Domino’s had the two employees arrested for tampering with food. The president of U.S. operations recorded a two-minute apology. After the crisis, Domino’s decided it needed to change its public image. Domino’s executives knew their food wasn’t good. The brand received customer complaints such as “the crust tastes like cardboard”, “the sauce tastes like ketchup” and “this is an imitation of pizza.” The brand decided to embrace the reviews and be transparent with its audience. Domino’s shared videos of customer complaints in an ad campaign to highlight the new recipe and quality assurance. The result was a renewed brand trust, that included a revised recipe and customer experience.
Definition: Reciprocity is the act of giving something today with the hope of getting something in the future; could be tangible or intangible and should not include promotional products.
Example: Imagine you’re at a conference. You receive your welcome goodie bag at the registration desk. The conference bag is filled with pens, brochures, keychains, and notepads. Which item are you likely to keep? Most people choose to keep the bag; however, the bag likely has a brand name printed or embroidered upon it. This is a promotional item. A bag with the user’s name printed or embroidered upon it is a gift. In the latter scenario, the conference attendee is more likely to keep the bag and significantly more likely to use the bag, which is a longitudinal and low-cost touchpoint.
Case: Most restaurants will serve bread and water at the table upon the beginning of the meal. The delivery of bread is somewhat expected and rarely acts as a standalone customer experience. At the Myrtle Beach restaurant, Hook and Barrel, the employees do not deliver bread to the table. The employees deliver a friendship gift. The friendship gift is a small plate appetizer that has more salience than bread and influences the consumer to spend more money based on the reciprocal gift.
Definition: Utility is the rational element of the decision process, which solves the problem that initiated the decision to purchase or acquire.
Example: Most Americans could survive and sustain life in a studio apartment; however, we choose the three bedroom apartment or home. We choose the home with the backyard rather than the home without a yard. The smaller home provides the utilitarian purpose, yet we select items within a category based on the other six elements of the reTRUST framework.
Case: A gas station knows you need to get from point a to point b. The gas station knows you probably need fuel to power the vehicle to get from point a to point b; therefore, the utilitarian use of the product is established. The remainder of the purchase is largely built upon the customer experience, which includes, yet is not limited to free air for tires, a car wash, a frozen drink machine, coffee, and when you’re in the mood: gas station sushi.
Definition: Social Status is the feel-good emotion that a person receives when others recognize them as a member of a specific or exclusive social group.
Example: An invite-only club or group is exclusive to its members and a waitlist to get access to the latest tech widget becomes bragging rights once achieved. These are highlights that are often shared on social media that show others the highlight reel of our lives.
Case: Delta Airlines has four tiers of elite status: Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. A frequent flier could earn status by flying and spending enough within a single calendar year, and once earned – the customer will keep the status through the following calendar year. Each tier of status offers perks, such as priority check-in, priority boarding, free checked bags, and club access. The tiers are structured via gamification to influence the consumer to spend more and fly more to earn status. When a new tier status is unlocked, fliers receive bag tags with the status and color code to show others of the exclusive group.
Definition: Timeliness is the act of engaging with the customer based on the customer’s decision-making timeline, which could include the application of product or resource scarcity.
Example: A customer is more likely to spend disposable income on payday and less likely to spend money during the final days prior to payday. Revising a messaging or marketing campaign to target a customer in conjunction with their spending behavior or their access to capital is likely to reduce friction and the pain of paying.
Case: Most products could be purchased at any given time. Products that are often available become less salient and become noise within the marketplace. Products that are scarce are likely to increase in value and experience an increased desirability by the consumer. McDonald’s offers the Shamrock Shake once per year in conjunction with St. Patrick’s Day. The shake is desirable because there is a limited amount of time when the shake could be purchased. If the customer missed the opportunity to get the shake, they will likely wait an entire year for the next opportunity.
The reTRUST Framework is best applied with small, attainable, relevant, and sustainable elements. The elements could be high cost, low cost, or no cost. The researchers at Clicksuasion Labs suggest applying low cost-no cost solutions to identify which elements are more impactful prior to spending a larger amount of the campaign budget. Moreover, each element of the reTRUST Framework should have three variables that contribute to the user or customer’s remarkable experience. Small, attainable, and relevant applications are an effective method of obtaining and maintaining consumer trust and enhancing the touchpoints between awareness and conversion.
View and workshop the reTRUST Framework in the centerfold of this Clicksights publication, or become a client with Clicksuasion Labs to workshop with the creators of the reTRUST Framework.