Retail & E-Commerce

Most Trusted Brands Report 2021: Retail & E-Commerce

July 2021

Report summary

For more recent data and analysis, see the Most Trusted Brands Report 2022: Retail & E-Commerce.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of Americans online to purchase the everyday products they needed, accelerating the rise of e-commerce and forcing retailers to navigate online consumer relationships during a time of particular turmoil. Trust was vital, and it will continue to be vital for retailers looking to leverage consumers’ new shopping habits.

Key Takeaways

  • The retail industry is emerging from the past year and a half with no deterioration in consumer trust, showing they have balanced high demand, low supply and the needs of consumers who typically don’t shop online.
  • Home improvement brands have earned some of consumers’ highest trust: Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware are among the top five of Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Retail Brands.
  • The pandemic has greatly accelerated the consumer shift to online shopping: Roughly one-quarter (24%) of respondents said they do all or most of their shopping online, doubling the share who said the same of their habits pre-pandemic (13%).
  • Online-only retailers still have a way to go: Roughly one-third (34%) said they don’t trust retailers with just an online presence, and they have to do things to earn their trust.
  • Protecting user data is a top trust driver for consumers looking to shop online. This is a particularly important element for retailers to embrace, with so many new pandemic-induced online shoppers.
  • Refusing to offer money-back guarantees, a particularly important element when shopping online, would prevent about half of the public from purchasing from an online retailer.


This report contains data from Morning Consult Brand Intelligence as well as Morning Consult Research Intelligence.

To determine this year’s rankings, Morning Consult analyzed at least 5,000 survey interviews with adults 18+ per brand from the company’s flagship brand tracking platform, Morning Consult Brand Intelligence. The rankings are based off data from the United States only and were determined based on Net Trust.

To assess the consumer trust landscape, Morning Consult Research Intelligence conducted survey research with more 4,400 U.S. consumers. The survey was conducted in June 2021, with a margin of error of +/-two percentage points.

About the author

A headshot photograph of Joanna Piacenza
Joanna Piacenza
Head of Industry Analysis

Joanna Piacenza leads Industry Analysis at Morning Consult. Prior to joining Morning Consult, she was an editor at the Public Religion Research Institute, conducting research at the intersection of religion, culture and public policy. Joanna graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications and holds a master’s degree in religious studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].