Consumers, whipsawed by the COVID-19 crisis and demonstrations for racial equality, are putting a greater emphasis on brand trust when purchasing a product, according to a special report of the Edelman Trust Barometer released June 25.

Trust is now the second most important factor in buying a new brand (53 percent) or becoming a loyal customer (49 percent), trailing only price and affordability, according to a survey conducted May 27-June 5 in 11 countries.

That’s a jump from fifth place a year ago, when trust ranked behind product performance, customer service, retail presence and ingredients.

Edelman found that 44 percent of consumers started using a new brand “because of the innovative or compassionate way" it has responded to the virus. That’s a seven-point jump from an April poll.

Forty percent (up six points) stopped using a brand because it did not act appropriately to the pandemic.

Earned media (44 percent) only trails personal experience (59 percent) and nearly doubles advertising (23 percent) in building trust in a brand.

The survey found that influence is built though authority and empathy.

The three most credible spokespersons for building trust are an industry expert (60 percent), “a person like yourself” (59 percent) and brand technical expert (49 percent).

The three least credible are a celebrity (30 percent), influencer with millions of followers (34 percent) and influencer with small following (40 percent).