What you need to know build customer trust and loyalty online in 2022

online trust trends for 2022

2021 was the year in which the COVID-19 pandemic continued to define many areas of life and business. It taught us to adapt to challenges and embrace technology to bridge the gaps caused by the restrictions that trickled over from 2020. 

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that COVID-19 is not going anywhere any time soon. Businesses will need to keep up with the changes COVID has fueled to remain relevant in the digital world.

In 2022, customers will continue to demand more personalized experiences and expect transparency and privacy for sharing their data. This will call for rejuvenated efforts to maintain customer trust in the ever-changing business landscape.

Brands will compete on trust both offline and online. Online trust will evolve over the years to accommodate the growing young population. They see new technologies as enablers in the new digital economy. 

Businesses that embrace both digital transformation and trust will remain competitive among this demographic that quickly warms up to these technologies. 

From e-commerce to financial services, staying differentiated will require you to stay in touch with the latest trends to remain relevant and maintain customer trust and loyalty. 

Let’s dig deeper into these trends below, backed by expert research and experiences across the globe:

E-commerce is evolving and so is online trust

As a result of the initial lockdowns and curfews that governments imposed across the globe, e-commerce grew significantly in 2020 and 2021. 

According to UNCTAD, the movement restrictions brought about by the lockdowns caused online retail’s share of total retail sales to increase from 16% to 19% in 2020. Global e-commerce sales neared $5 trillion in 2021 and are projected to reach around $6.4 trillion by 2024.

Following a survey conducted in 9 countries, including those in emerging markets, UNCTAD found that consumers are looking to shop more online in the post-COVID-19 future. 

As e-commerce grows, customer trust in online shopping remains fragile. This is due to uncertainties and financial strain that the pandemic has brought upon many households. Researchers have shown that a lack of trust remains the top reason why shoppers do not purchase products or services online. 

Businesses will have to work smarter to build and maintain customer trust in 2022 and beyond while leveraging consumers’ readiness to embrace online shopping. Today’s consumers base their loyalty on the service they receive, not just the product and price. In the age of instant gratification, customers have come to expect faster deliveries

Online reviews

Further, a big part of establishing customer trust in e-commerce is showing social proof. Displaying customer testimonials and reviews online goes a long way in showing your product and service works for your customers. Online reviews are instrumental in helping customers make purchase decisions in thriving marketplaces. Their importance will continue into 2022, with 85% of customers today reading them to decide what to buy online and offline. 

85% of customers read online reviews before making purchase decisions.

However, fake reviews have become the order of the day in many leading online platforms, ripping customers off their hard-earned money. Governments around the world have been working on laws to make it illegal for businesses to pay for fake reviews. The British government has already laid out plans to enforce tougher penalties on businesses employing deceptive marketing tactics online.

Read our article on how to fight fake reviews in 2022 and beyond.

Fake reviews have led to the loss of customer trust for businesses that entertain them. 40% of consumers have said that they would never buy from a brand again after being duped by fake reviews. Marketplaces will need to adopt technologies that ensure ratings and reviews are protected from manipulation by rogue players. 

UTU Trust API brand trust

We’re building the UTU Trust API to ensure that ratings and reviews cannot be manipulated. By using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and blockchain technology, the API leverages social networks and other data sources to add more context to online reviews. If your customer is browsing through products, they will be shown those that friends or customers nearby also bought. The API works by taking advantage of social network connections between users to deliver smart social recommendations. The power of social media cannot be understated. It reflects how we trust in the real world, bringing us to our next trend.

Social commerce is growing, fueled by customer trust

Social commerce is the process in which customers discover and purchase products and services on social media platforms. Advanced features on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest enable users to complete the shopping process without leaving the apps. 

Advertisements, influencer marketing and lately, livestream shopping have been instrumental in fueling the uptake of social commerce by users. 

Due to rising smartphone adoption and the pandemic, social media usage increased. As a result, social commerce will continue to take hold in 2022. Indeed, social media has made it very easy for people with smartphones to set up shop on Instagram. These people are creating booming businesses from the comfort of their homes. 

Accenture predicts that the growth of social commerce will be more pronounced in developing economies. Here, it is projected to triple by 2025, growing from $492 billion in 2021 to $1.2 trillion. A 2021 study in South East Asia found that social commerce is closing in on e-commerce as the preferred channel for shoppers. It came in at 78% after e-commerce at 91%. Traditional retail lagged behind at 35%.

social commerce graphs map accenture

Why is this?

Social commerce is filling the gap created by broken customer trust in traditional e-commerce (as we’ve highlighted in the first trend). This is partly due to rogue actors who are soliciting paid fake reviews through bots, among other underhanded tactics.

Consumers around the world trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. This is the power of word of mouth. Social media users are more likely to trust social media ads and recommendations because that’s where their friends and family are.

Businesses that are serious about building trust will acknowledge this reality and leverage the power of online social networks in enhancing their marketing efforts. E-commerce platforms will need to be creative and execute competitive strategies to thrive through the trend. Which brings us to the next point in this discussion.

Both personalization and data privacy remain key in building trust

Today’s customers expect personalization but with privacy. They expect companies to serve up recommendations based on who they are and what they’ve purchased before, and predict what they will likely buy in the near future. According to a study by customer service and CX expert Shep Hyken, 75% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a business that delivers a personalized customer service experience. 

Even then, customers expect that the companies they trust with their data will treat it with the care and security it deserves. Companies across the world are waking up to the concept of responsible marketing and ethical data sharing to avoid losing customer trust. 

“Customers who are willing to share the information needed to personalize their experience expect the company will treat that information like it is gold, properly protecting it and not abusing the privilege of having it.”

— Shep Hyken

With great power comes great responsibility, and big tech companies are beginning to live up to this adage. One of the key trends that impacted e-commerce in 2021 was the decision by Apple to allow iOS users to opt out of data tracking across apps. This means that users who opt out prevent Apple from sharing their data with third parties. These include companies like Facebook that normally use this data to serve up more targeted ads. 

This will not be the last of such privacy-focused measures in coming years. Customers will continue to engage with companies and platforms that give them control of their data. Businesses who do not embrace these imminent changes will suffer loss, as we witnessed following the data-tracking change by Apple. Businesses that solely relied on Facebook’s ad platform to sell products have seen a drop in traffic from the site. As a result, they have been considering alternatives. The future is becoming cookie-less, with Google Chrome in the process of dropping support of third-party cookies by 2023. 

Zero-party data

What does this mean for your business? It’s time you familiarize yourself with the latest marketing buzzword — “zero-party” data — and take steps to embrace it before it’s too late.

Zero-party data is data that you collect directly from customers instead of relying on Google or Facebook (third parties) to do that for you. Customers share this data intentionally through various prompts from your business. These include surveys and quizzes sent via email, questions delivered during the signup or opt-in process and polls to identify customer preferences. Zero-party data will allow you to personalize your products and services thus growing your business. 

Companies have used AI to drive personalized services for years now. For instance, when Amazon shows you product recommendations, it is based on what you have viewed or purchased previously. AI powers this functionality. However, a lot more can be achieved with AI and machine learning. 

trust personalized

At UTU, we are using AI to combine past data and relationship data ingested from social networks to bring customers a more relational, contextualized experience. This is delivered wherever they transact and interact online. We’re building zero-party tools to enable you to deliver smart social recommendations. These recommendations combine the power of social networks and AI-powered personalization. We do this through permissioned data from customers who can be as anonymous as they need to be. We are cognizant of data privacy and its role in digital trust, giving customers back control.

Talk with us today

Consumers are putting more trust in fintech vs traditional banks

Trust is also evolving in a big way in the financial industry. For a long time, consumers trusted established traditional banks as opposed to the newer financial technology companies (fintech). This is changing. 

According to a report by EY, 37% of consumers named a fintech firm as their most-trusted financial brand. This places fintechs ahead of traditional banks, with only 33% of consumers saying a bank was their most-trusted brand. Only 12% named a wealth management firm as most trusted.

trust in fintech vs banks

New technologies have clearly caused consumers to change their behaviours and expectations while interacting with financial institutions. Consumers are used to the personalized and fast services that they receive in other areas of their lives. They expect the same from financial institutions. 

Furthermore, deterioration of financial health in many households caused by pandemic restrictions have further caused consumer behaviours to change. 46% of consumers are struggling with or foresee a struggle in making loan repayments. 

Fintech players are nimbler in adapting to this reality. They are jumping on the opportunity to provide access to customized solutions that traditional banks would normally reserve for high net worth customers. Hyper-personalized services foster better customer trust. Understandably, the most important factor in driving financial trust is how confident customers are that financial institutions are protecting their data. 

If traditional banks do not keep up with these changes, they stand to lose a lot of ground in future. To compete, they will need to embrace digital transformation. Banks will also need to leverage data responsibly for more effective customer service and propositions that build trust. 


The fintech industry has come to include cryptocurrencies and by extension, decentralized finance (DeFi)

Digital currencies were originally intended to be a decentralized way to send money over the internet. Even though this function has not taken off yet, consumer trust and adoption in cryptocurrencies has skyrocketed around the globe.  

The 2021 Global Crypto Adoption Index by Chainanalysis confirms the growing adoption. Moreover, a study conducted in 2021 found that 41% of consumers believe Bitcoin is ‘more trustworthy’ than their local currency. 

“At the end of Q2 2020, following a period of little growth, total global adoption stood at 2.5 based on our summed up country index scores. At the end of Q2 2021, that total score stands at 24, suggesting that global adoption has grown by over 2300% since Q3 2019 and over 881% in the last year.”

— Chainanalysis 

Notably, several countries in emerging markets lead the way in the adoption of cryptocurrencies. They include Kenya, Nigeria, Vietnam, and Venezuela. The adoption in these countries is powered by peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges. This is because consumers in these countries lack access to centralized exchanges. Similar to other online marketplaces, P2P exchanges will continue to boom in 2022.

Global Cryptocurrency Adoption Index by Chainanalysis

DeFi has grown exponentially too, with total funds put into DeFi services surpassing $200 billion for the first time in 2021. Projections predict further growth in 2022.

The growing adoption has resulted in greater attention in the industry, with governments across the world looking deeper into crypto. Nigeria and Bahamas launched their own central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) while tightening rules. 2022 will see more governments explore and launch CBDCs. Perhaps another county might adopt bitcoin as legal tender, following in El Salvador’s footsteps. We will have to wait and see.

What’s for sure is that the tug of war between the crypto/blockchain movement and traditional financial institutions will intensify. Which leads us to the next point.

Trust will be rebuilt in Web3

What is Web3, the latest tech buzzword in 2022? Some say it is just a combination of blockchain, crypto and DeFi. In the simplest terms, Web3 is a decentralized internet, including blockchain apps and cryptocurrency technologies like non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Like with all new technologies, Web3 has found many critics. However, it promises to rebuild the online trust that broke in Web 2.0. Web 2.0 has been the era of the social web and user generated content (UGC). Facebook dominated the sector to own people’s data and power brand growth at incredible speeds. With this, trust was undermined with doors opening to more cyber crime, fake news and harassment. 

Web3 will be the space to establish new models of digital trust. It will do this by giving data control back to online consumers through upholding digital privacy and transparency. While the trend is still early, we predict major strides will be made in 2022.

“Trust is becoming unbundled, decentralized, and inverted –– instead of flowing top down from institutions to individual people, it is now beginning to emerge bottom up from individuals and software.”

— Ali Yahya, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz

NFTs in e-commerce

Speaking of buzzwords, digital items took on new value in 2021 with the rise in NFT popularity. We expect to see more where that came from in 2022. One of the most popular NFT marketplaces, OpenSea just announced a $300 million funding round as 2022 started. We are only scratching the surface of what this means and we would urge any player in the e-commerce industry not to ignore this trend. 

Sample this list of some of the biggest global brands dipping their toes into the NFT pool. Morgan Stanley has predicted that NFTs could generate 11 billion euros in sales by 2030, or even double that. 

Why do we expect to see more of the NFT revolution in 2022? NFTs are essentially a new token of trust in the digital ecosystem. They are solving the authenticity problem via public decentralized databases, thereby reducing fraud. 

NFTs can represent ownership of unique items beyond art. Think about the physical documents we hold to prove ownership of assets: land title deeds, vehicle log books and many more. All these can be minted into NFTs to prove ownership. 

This is possible because NFTs can only have one official owner at a time and they’re secured by blockchain technology which is decentralized and secure. With decentralization, no third party trust is needed to verify ownership. Nobody can modify the record of ownership or duplicate the NFT. 

How can your business benefit this trend? If your business creates art or digital products, it could be wise to consider minting NFTs.

Online businesses are rewarding customers in NFTs for taking part in surveys or product testing. Furthermore, NFTs can also help you build community and brand engagement. By encouraging followers and customers to offer suggestions or design brand NFTs to win prizes, your business can gain from the buzz and subsequent user generated content. We’re definitely keeping our eyes peeled on this trend and you should too.


These are some of the biggest trends we foresee changing the online trust landscape in 2022. We hope the list arms you with the information you need to help you expand your online business as you maintain customer trust in the year ahead. There are many more exciting trends and developments defining the digital trust landscape and we will be here to keep you posted on all of them.

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