Background: The Necessity of Trust
As the Internet develops and matures, its success will largely depend on gaining and maintaining the trust of visitors. Such trust will be paramount to sites that depend on consumer commerce. The concept of trust is crucial because it affects a number of factors essential to online transactions, including security and privacy. Trust is also one of the most important factors associated with branding. Without trust, development of e-commerce cannot reach its potential. In a joint research project conducted by Cheskin Research and Studio Archetype/Sapient and released in January 1999, the factors that produce a sense of trustworthiness on a website were identified. In a follow-up study begun early in 2000, Cheskin Research probed the dimensions of online trust across the Americas.
While the US leads the way in terms of growth of e-commerce, the rest of the world may only be a few clicks behind. Little is known about the online population in Latin America and Brazil except that they are entering the online world rapidly. IDC projects that the online population in Latin America will more than double to 29.6 million by 2003. By linking the learnings in both studies, our understanding of the nature and dynamics of website trust can be dramatically enhanced.
The new Cheskin “Trust in the Wired Americas” study was undertaken to extend the learning from the initial Trust Study, where the specific elements that communicate trustworthiness in ecommerce sites were identified. The new research explores the dimensions of online trust in the US, Spanish-speaking Latin America and Brazil. Specific objectives include:
- Exploration of how trust online is viewed among the online population in the Western Hemisphere
- Identification of the most trusted websites in the Americas;
- Investigation of the most recognizable and trusted symbols of online security in the Americas
- Comparison of online behavior between users in the US, Spanish-speaking Latin America and Brazil.
This report brings together the information acquired in the new Trust study with that from the first study. The ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of consumer attitudes about trust, and the ways in which a sense of trustworthiness can be enhanced. Like our first Trust study in 1999, we offer this current study as a pioneering piece examining this vital issue and inspiring continued conversation.