Does brand trust matter to brand equity?
Elena Delgado-Ballester and Jose
Marketing Department, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain
Purpose – The most recent literature on competitive advantage views brand equity as a relational market-based asset because it arises from the
relationships that consumers have with brands. Given the fact that trust is viewed as the corner-stone, as well as one of the mostdesirable qualities in
any relationship, the objective of this study is to analyze the importance of brand trust in the development of brand equity. Speciﬁcally, the paper
examines the relationships network in which brand trust is embedded.
Design/methodology/approach – A quantitative methodology was adopted. The data are based on a survey conducted in a region in the south-
eastern part of Spain, resulting in 271 surveys.
Findings – The ﬁndings reveal that brand trust is rooted in the result of past experience with the brand, and it is also positively associated with brand
loyalty,which in turn maintains a positive relationship with brand equity.Furthermore, the results suggest that, although brand trust does not play a full
mediating role as suggested by Morgan and Hunt, it contributes to a better explanation of brand equity.
Originality/value – These results have signiﬁcant implications. The fact that brand equity is best explained when brand trust is taken into account
reinforces the idea that brand equity is a relational market-based asset. Therefore, branding literature may be enriched through the integration with the
literature on the resource-based-view of the ﬁrm. From a practical point of view, companies must build brand trust in order to enjoy the substantial
competitive and economic advantages provided by brand equity as a relational, market-based asset.
Keywords Brand equity, Brand management, Trust, Consumer behaviour
Paper type Research paper
An executive summary for managers and executive
readers can be found at the end of this article.
Building a strong brand in the market is the goal of many
organizations because it provides a host of beneﬁts to a ﬁrm,
including less vulnerability to competitive marketing actions,
larger margins, greater intermediary co-operation and suppor t
and brand extension opportunities.
Given this interest in brand building, what actually makes a
brand strong? This question has been a signiﬁcant and
recurrent theme in the branding literature over the past two
decades, resulting in a vast body of research on the salient
concept of brand equity. However, since the late 1990s, new
research streams in marketing (e.g. long-term relationships,
the creation of added valu e based on knowledge and
experience, the role of marketing resources in ﬁrm
performance, etc.) have allowed for a new way of
approaching the question of what makes a brand strong,
thereby enriching our understanding of brand equity.
Speciﬁcally, it is within a resource-based approach and
relationship marketing perspective that we analyze brand
The most recent literature (Falkenberg, 1996; Hooley et al.,
2005; Srivastava et al., 1998, 2001) considers brand equity as
a relational market-based asset because it exists outside the
ﬁrm and resides in the relationships of ﬁnal user s with brands.
At the same time, the emergence of relationship marketing as
a dominant focus of both marketing theorists and
practitioners suggests that trust is the main factor on which
a relationship is based. Connecting, then, the relationship
principles with a resource-based approach to brand equity, we
propose the following research question: Does brand trust
matter to brand equity?
The study of brand trust in the branding literature has not
ﬂourished. Much of the interest in this issue has been
conceptual or theoretical in nature, and there has been little
empirical research into it. This lack of research is pointed out
by Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001) who afﬁrm that the role
of brand trust in the brand equity processes has not been
explicitly considered. Nevertheless, its importance has been
theoretically highligh ted in the branding literat ure (see
Ambler, 1997; Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995) and in the
current brand management practices (see Bainbridge, 1997;
Kamp, 1999; Scott, 2000).
On the basis of these considerations, and connecting both
the resource-based approach of the ﬁrm and the relationship
marketing literatures, this study aims to ﬁll this gap by
examining the importance of brand trust in the development
of brand equity.
To address this objective, the rest of this paper is therefore
organized as follows. Webegin by analyzing brand equity from
a resource-based approach. Its consideration as a relational
market-based asset leads us to focus on brand trust.
Consequently, we present a deﬁnition of brand trust, and
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Journal of Product & Brand Management
14/3 (2005) 187–196
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]
This research was funded by grant SEC2002-04321-CO2-01 from the
Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology.