In the quest for brands to establish emotional investment by their customers, one of the most important changes that can be made is a move from demonstrating honesty towards building trust. By now, honesty is expected in business. With negative buzz smeared over the internet by every disgruntled hothead, honesty is a requirement. Given that honesty is expected to stand out, brands must now move towards trust.

Building trust takes significant effort. Trust is what you have with a friend. One of the most powerful expressions of trust that brands can make is the No Hassle Return Policy, made famous by Nordstrom years ago.

A company who has recently made a stab at building trust is Chrysler.

In February of this year, Chrysler introduced its “Minivan Pledge”. This offered buyers 60 days to try a Dodge Grand Caravan or Chrysler Town and Country with the option of returning the vehicle within 60 days if they were unhappy with it in any way. Excellent idea!

Despite their apparent move in the direction of building trust, Chrysler made a disappointing reversal this month. They spun their new program, now available on most 2010 Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge and Ram Truck vehicles, as an expansion of their old program, although it is actually quite the opposite.

A look at their July 8, 2010 press release reveals that customers must now choose one of several incentives:
• 0% financing for up to 72 months
• cash rebates of up to $4,000 or
• the 60-day guarantee (a $1000 value at $500 per month)

Fred Diaz, President and Chief Executive Officer – Ram Truck Brand and Lead Executive for U.S. Sales, is quoted in that press release saying, “We build great vehicles for just about any lifestyle and with this pledge, consumers will have the confidence to know they made the right purchase or they can return the vehicle no questions asked.”

Unfortunately, with the latest pledge, Chrysler is actually destroying the trust that they were beginning to rebuild with car buyers in America. Bad move.

Laura Strickland is a marketing professional with an expertise in brand strategy. Her credentials include an MBA with a Marketing Area of Emphasis from Arizona State University as well as experience developing marketing strategies for both large and small businesses.

Laura helps businesses succeed by helping to define their competitive advantage and using this as a foundation for marketing campaigns.
Laura can be contacted at lstrickland@phoenixmarketingassociates.com

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