Brand trust: a cross-national validation in
Germany, India, and South Africa
Sabrina M. Hegner
Apollon University, Bremen, Germany, and
Monash Business School, Monash University, Clayton, Australia
Purpose – Numerous studies have established the importance of brand trust for building long-term relationships with consumers. Nevertheless,
there is confusion in the literature about how to measure trust in brands. Building on the studies of Li
(2008) and Li
established brand trust as a second-order construct, this paper aims to demonstrate additional richness of the brand trust construct by adding further
dimensions and extending the cultural background to Germany, India and South Africa.
Design/methodology/approach – Based on accepted scale development procedures, the authors have derived a parsimonious, reliable and valid
scale to measure brand trust.
Findings – The resulting cross-national scales of brand trust demonstrate validity by offering a good ﬁt and invariant measures across countries.
The results show that overall brand trust is inﬂuenced by competence, predictability and benevolence/integrity.
Practical implications – Global communication technology means that brands are increasingly exposed internationally. To be successful in
cross-cultural consumer-brand relationships, managers must build the skills to understand and deal with these cultural differences as well as
understanding the fundamental aspects that do not differ across cultures. The model developed in this paper will be useful to both researchers and
managers to get deeper insights into the trusting relationships their consumers have with their brand.
Originality/value – This cross-national study builds on recently published work and contributes to enriching brand trust understanding.
Additionally, this research offers a validated, easily applicable, scale for measuring brand trust.
Keywords Scale development, Brand trust, Cross-national, Second-order construct
Paper type Research paper
Brand trust is crucial in maintaining a long-term relationship
between consumers and brands, and it helps to maintain a
company’s competitive advantage (Delgado-Ballester and
Munuera-Alemán, 2005). Hiscock (2001) sees the ultimate
goal of marketing as generating an intense bond between the
consumer and the brand, and the main ingredient of this bond
is trust. For example, recent research has demonstrated the
key role that trust plays for brands in crisis situations (Hegner
et al., 2014;Herm, 2013;Yannopoulou et al., 2011).
However, despite the importance of brand trust, there is no
consensus on the identity of the building blocks of brand trust.
The variety of understandings in the literature does little to aid
in the presentation of a concise and coherent framework for
either managerial action or academic endeavour (Gabbott and
Jevons, 2009). As Li et al. (2015) emphasise, measuring brand
trust as a unidimensional construct yields an incomplete
portrayal and ignores the conceptual richness of brand trust.
Their work proves the multi-dimensionality of the construct
by introducing competence and benevolence as relevant
components of trust.
Following a careful literature review and Li et al.’s (2008;
2015) reasoning, we demonstrate the existence of two
additional dimensions as building blocks of brand trust.
Therefore, this study extends Li et al.’s (2008) framework by
addressing the dimensions of integrity and predictability in
addition to competence and benevolence. Further, in response
to Li et al.’s (2015) call for data from more countries and
contexts, we study three additional countries, Germany, India
and South Africa, that have not yet been addressed within this
research stream to validate the framework. Extending the
current framework of brand trust will help researchers as well
as brand managers better understand and address some of the
important contemporary challenges that brand managers face
in building trusting relationships with their consumers. We
show that the higher-order construct of brand trust is based on
the four building blocks of competence, predictability,
benevolence and integrity.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. We ﬁrst give an
overview on the building blocks of the brand trust construct.
Then, we present the research method and the research results
of the cross-national validation. The article concludes with a
discussion of implications and directions for future research.
Building blocks of brand trust
Trust has been conceptualized in a multitude of ways. The
trust literature from various disciplines suggests that there are
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on
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Journal of Product & Brand Management
25/1 (2016) 58–68
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]