How to Increase Customer Trust in 5 Simple Steps

How to Increase Customer Trust in 5 Simple Steps

Building brand trust is one of the key objectives for marketing in the age of social media. A recent survey found that 83 percent of customers will recommend a trusted company to others, and 82 percent will continue to use that brand frequently. In times when word-of-mouth is more important than ever, and consumers are empowered to challenge brand narratives, marketers look for new ways to increase customer trust.  But shouting “trust me” – over and over again – in countless commercials only gets you so far.

A better way to boost customer trust is to let consumers learn about your commitment to quality, on their own initiative.  Augmented reality (AR) can act as the right tool to engage your customers to do exactly that.

In this article, Emily BishopBrenna Jensen, and Joachim Scholz explain how marketers can use augmented reality to build customer trust.

The king of fast food giants, McDonald’s, turned a serious customer trust issue into an trust-gaining opportunity with AR.  Their campaign changed consumer opinion for the better – and don’t worry, yours can too.

Augmented reality presents a unique opportunity to engage the consumer and generate genuine trust.  We walk you through five simple steps to create an AR campaign that instills customers’ confidence in your brand: Discover, define, determine, decide, and dedicate.

McDonald’s keeping it ​Augmented REAL​ity with customers

McDonald’s has been trying for years to overcome its “junk food” image and increase its customer trust. In one of its latest attempts, McDonald’s switched from just telling customers about their food to showing them where it’s coming from.

Imagine you could track where the ingredients in your fast-food meal were produced at the touch of your mobile device. McDonald’s made this a reality for their Australian customers during their “TrackMyMacca’s” campaign.  Using a free AR app, consumers were able to track the ingredients in the actual food they just bought.

After scanning the meal packaging, the AR app uses GPS data, the date and time, and image recognition software to access McDonald’s ingredient supply database.  The result is a unique display of customers individual meal ingredients and journey:

The app had a genuine, simple purpose: allow consumers to trace their meals and feel confident about the ingredients used.  Safe to say, the campaign result was a major success:

  • In the first month, the app was downloaded by 45,883 users. It became the #1 app in the “Food and Drink” category in Australia.
  • Consumer engagement was strong with 62,219 views on the core messaging screens of the app.
  • The app received 660 million impressions worth of PR coverage.

So what campaign ingredients made this a recipe for success?

We’re lovin’ the results

The campaign was highly successful in fostering customer trust.  McDonald’s did not use technology for the sake of using technology. Rather, they used AR to provide transparency and valuable information to the consumer.

Also, TrackMyMacca’s was a hit because it provided entertainment value.  The app users can meet the ingredient suppliers – the farmers, fishermen, and bakers – to hear their story. These storytelling techniques contributed to building customer trust and support.

TrackMyMacca's builds customer trust through storytelling.


It’s clear: McDonald’s “TrackMyMacca’s” campaign effectively executed the company’s campaign goals of developing customer trust.  Better yet, it was a conversation piece to many Australian consumers about McDonald’s food ingredients.

While the effectiveness seemed to come naturally, the campaign strategy was in place.  You too can implement a winning strategy with AR to gain the trust of your customers.

5 Simple steps to increase trust and keep customers happy (meal)

Augmented is a unique virtual channel that can win over customers’ trust, for the right reasons. You can improve your brand’s image by creating an AR campaign that follows these simple steps:

  1. Discover
  2. Define
  3. Determine
  4. Decide
  5. Dedicate

1. Discover

The first step in crafting a successful augmented reality campaign is identifying where customer trust is lost.

Recognizing the “Why?” behind consumers’ perceptions of your brand will allow for a more in-depth campaign strategy and higher bottom-line results. This tactic is explained by Simon Sinek, in more depth, in his TED talk that’s worth the watch.

A variety of research methods can help you discover ​the “why.” Try reading product reviews, consumer blogs, or media responses.  It all goes back to this: spend time listening to the customer.

AR is your golden opportunity to show consumers you’ve been listening – and you have answers

McDonald’s was successful in listening to their consumers and uncovered a common question, “What is McDonald’s food really made out of?” McDonald’s knew that they had lost customer trust and needed to gain it back when the media began to target their company as dishonest.

One of the most pivotal moments was when the documentary Super Size Me went viral and struck millions of McDonald’s customers with concern.

2. Define

The next step in the planning process includes defining​ campaign goals.

As described in research article by marketing professors Joachim Scholz and Andrew Smith, marketers should understand their target market, communication objectives, and the “how” in gaining customer trust back.

For augmented reality to be effective, the campaign goals must be clear.  If definitive purpose is lacking, AR campaigns struggle with effectiveness and longevity.

McDonald’s strives to provide an environment where families can come have fun, eat, and enjoy. They recognized that traditional ways of advertising, like print media and commercials, had the potential of hiding and losing this key message. These types of advertisements also did not convey the same level of playfulness that was necessary to draw in their target audience.

Thus, McDonald’s marketers knew they needed a more technological savvy way to engage with their twenty-first century customers. They needed the AR content to be accessible as well as exciting for both children and adults.

3. Determine

Spend time creating the right AR content for your campaign.

It should inspire the customer response you want, fit your objectives, and engage your target users. While determining how to implement your campaign, consider how the content will be triggered by the user.

It is critical to align your campaign’s communication objectives with how the AR layer becomes activated. McDonald’s embedded the physical trigger within their product packaging, also known as the active packaging paradigm.  Customers were in control of activating the AR experience, if they chose to downloaded the app. Once inside, customers could explore any or all of the features at their pleasure.

McDonald’s was strategic in granting trigger control to the user.

Increase trust by letting customers discover information on their own

By allowing the customer to experience the AR content for themselves, McDonald’s made it more likely for them to absorb where their ingredients actually come from.

Brands can strategize similarly: The act of self-learning will lead to further customer trust.

4. Decide

After determining who triggers an AR layer, decide​ how it will be integrated into the AR layer’s social and physical contexts.

In this step, marketers should keep in mind how they want to communicate their brand to the users and what experience they hope to offer.

As a marketer who is concerned with increasing the intrinsic appeal of their campaign, keep the customer in mind when considering how to integrate the content into the social and physical world.

McDonald’s carefully crafted their application to introduce another fun activity parents and their kids could do while dining inside the restaurant. Families can be engaged by their mobile devices together, discovering the journey of how their meal was made in order to get on their plate. As a result, the app became a storyteller.

McDonald's creates customer trust among families.

5. Dedicate

The final key to a successful campaign is asking for customer feedback.

Marketers should be dedicated to continuously improving a campaign’s content, affordance, and engagement level – based on the user’s response.

Implementing customer feedback software (e.g. Get Satisfaction, OpinionLab, etc.) or tracking social media outlets are great ways to gather customer comments. Another effective method is to ask customers for their feedback by sharing user-generated content on their social networks. This will receive far more PR coverage by reaching bystanders, or people that observe a user’s actions without actually experiencing the augmentation themselves.

The TrackMyMacca app could improve trust by listening to the customer.

While McDonald’s did a good job of asking customers to share their AR experience on social media, it could have been better.  McDonald’s could have listened and reacted to customer criticisms of the campaign in order to improve their execution.


For a more interactive experience, for example, McDonald’s could have enabled parents to access other elements shown in the app – rather than just being able to discover ingredient information. And children would have enjoyed a more game-like experience, in which they can play around with the farm characters and learn more about the lives of farmers, fishers, and bakers.

What does this mean for your own brand? Look for ways how you can increase customers’ engagement with your AR app. The more customers engage with your brand, the more you will build customer trust.

Be the Big Mac of Building Customer Trust

Plan strategically, and you too can engage customers in trust building activities for your brand.

The “TrackMyMacca’s” campaign changed the perceptions of thousands of McDonald’s Australian consumers through the use of an AR app on their mobile device. To the consumers, this may have just seemed like a simple storytelling tactic. To eye of a marketer, however, the content of this campaign was carefully crafted to gain customer trust and attention.

Augmented reality continues to be a growing topic across a variety of industries. It has innovative marketers thinking of and creating new ways to digitally engage their consumers. By establishing customer trust early, you can enhance the customer’s experience with your product. Or if you’re like McDonald’s, AR can help you get out of a fishy situation.

To find out more information about augmented reality and its growing trends, please subscribe to

This post was written by Emily Bishop, Brenna Jensen, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Rachel Gasparini for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.
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