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The nature of trust in brands: a psychosocial model

Richard Elliott (University of Bath, Bath, UK)
Natalia Yannopoulou (University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 25 September 2007




The paper seeks to explore empirically the lived experience of trust in consumer brands and to develop a model focusing on functional and symbolic brands.


The paper presents an exploratory, grounded theory approach and the study conducted in‐depth interviews.


The findings reveal that when consumers are facing buying choices of functional brands that do not involve much risk and the price is low, familiarity is sufficient for their action. When risk and price levels increase, consumers seek a safe purchase choice regarding functional brands through confidence and dependability, while in the case of symbolic brands consumers have to trust the brand in order to make a purchase choice.

Research limitations/implications

By exploring the concept of trust within the consumer domain and in particular in relation to functional and symbolic brands, this study offers insights into an area that has received noticeably limited research up to today. Furthermore the development of the psychosocial model of trust in brands offers opportunities to theoreticians for further research regarding the factors that influence trust in each stage, as well as ways to restore or transfer trust when needed.

Practical implications

The study presents a tool to marketing practitioners, which will assist them in building and preserving long‐term trusting customer relationships.


The value of our research lies in the development of a psychosocial model of trust in brands by drawing on both social theory and on the psychology of human relationships.



Elliott, R. and Yannopoulou, N. (2007), "The nature of trust in brands: a psychosocial model", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 41 No. 9/10, pp. 988-998.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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