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    Trust is crucial issue of 2009

    From government to food to finances, America needs greater focus on rebuilding trust. In November 2008, Mintel forecasted "Rebuilding Trust" as a key trend for 2009. Now as the year starts to unfold, the market research analyst identifies different areas where trust building will be crucial.

    From government to food to finances, America needs greater focus on rebuilding trust. In November 2008, Mintel forecasted "Rebuilding Trust" as a key trend for 2009. Now as the year starts to unfold, the market research analyst identifies different areas where trust building will be crucial.

    Following President Barack Obama's recent address to the nation, Mintel expert Joan Holleran comments on the importance of recovering trust in America this year. Mintel expects trust building to emerge as the paramount concern of 2009.

    "In the first two months of 2009, we've already seen the dire need to rebuild trust in America," notes Holleran, director of research at Mintel. "From government changes to food safety to struggling financial institutions, the American public's trust has been broken repeatedly in recent months. Rebuilding this trust is crucial for business success, consumer confidence and overall economic recovery."

    Holleran believes institutions will need to work much harder to gain people's trust this year. "Many Americans had their confidence dashed by failed expectations, and they're also spending less because of the recession. Companies need to develop trusting, honest relationships so they can get shoppers' precious dollars."

    As the year starts to unfold, the market research leader identifies different areas where trust building will be crucial:

    --Government: From corruption in Illinois politics to a new president to a broad, intensive economic stimulus plan, political leaders will have to devote substantial energy to rebuilding trust with constituents this year. Many Americans feel anxious and skeptical, so elected officials will need to earn their confidence to lead the nation to recovery, says Mintel.

    --Food Safety: The recent peanut butter safety scare has made many people wary of even the most common food products. Foods that were traditionally viewed as "safe," including organic and kosher, are going to be viewed in a new light, says Mintel. Organic foods are not immune to outbreaks of e-coli, for example, and while Mintel research shows 34 percent of kosher food buyers purchase for food safety reasons, the recent demise of kosher processors Agriprocessors and Peanut Corp. of America clearly indicate kosher certification doesn't guarantee food safety.

    --Finance: As the catalyst of the economic fallout last year, the financial sector has the furthest to go in regaining consumer trust. Banks, credit card issuers and lenders need to clean up their books and communicate openly to regain the people's faith. Mintel reports that only 28 percent of high-net-worth adults say they're relying more on financial advisors because of the economy. "The current financial market presents a substantial opportunity to advisors who can gain investors' trust," notes Holleran.

    --Automotive: In asking for their own bailout, U.S. auto manufacturers lost the confidence of many Americans. Still, Mintel data shows that half of U.S. drivers say their primary vehicle is American-made. By keeping consumers aware of production and development goals, Mintel believes domestic automakers can begin to restore faith in their brands and truly compete with foreign manufacturers.

    --Green: Though green markets have grown quickly, reduced consumer spending and doubt over corporate "greenwashing" may impact sales in the future. "In a recent survey, three in five respondents said they were skeptical over many companies' green marketing claims," says Holleran. "Green manufacturers need to clarify their environmental efforts and communicate their eco-effects, so shoppers can trust that they're truly benefiting the environment."

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