The SXSW 2024 panel, ‘’The Death of the Purchase Funnel,” hosted by Edelman’s Courtney Miller and featuring insights from marketing leaders including Gina Igwe from DoorDash and Mark DiCristina from MailChimp, focused on the need for evolving models of the purchase journey due to an evolution of brand-consumer dynamics and the importance of trust in the decision to purchase from one brand over another.

Panelists indicated that due to this shift in behavior, they’ve moved away from the traditional purchase funnel, towards a more relationship-driven model known as the Trust Loop.

This concept, explored at length in Edelman’s “2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The Collapse of the Purchase Funnel,” suggests that true brand loyalty forms post-purchase, indicated by several insights including the statistic that 78% of consumers engage more deeply with brands after their initial purchase.

The Trust Loop: A New Paradigm

The Trust Loop emerges as a pivotal framework, recognizing the non-linear and ongoing nature of consumer-brand relationships. Courtney Miller, Executive Vice President and Head of U.S. Strategy at Edelman, laid the groundwork by challenging the traditional funnel’s relevance in today’s consumer landscape: “The world is changing fast… so why is it that we are still conceiving and measuring the purchase journey in the same traditional static ways we always have?” The alternative, of course, comes in the form of the Trust Loop, a model that accounts for the dynamic interplay of trust, action and engagement in fostering long-term brand loyalty.

Key Takeaways from Gina Igwe and Mark DiCristina

Gina Igwe, VP of Consumer Marketing at DoorDash, shared personal and professional insights into how DoorDash navigates the post-purchase landscape to cultivate brand loyalty. 

“I was on Instagram the other day… I purchased [a product] right away. I could not even tell you the name of the brand I purchased it from because it doesn’t matter,” she said, underscoring the impulsive nature of modern purchasing and the critical role of ongoing engagement in building a meaningful brand-consumer relationship.

Igwe also shared DoorDash’s approach to fostering lasting brand loyalty beyond the initial transaction: “In today’s market, the purchase is just the starting line. We at DoorDash have seen firsthand how post-purchase engagement, whether through personalized recommendations or exclusive offers, significantly enhances customer retention.”

Igwe further emphasized the role of sustained interactions in building trust, “Our focus extends well beyond the checkout page. It’s about creating a continuum of value that keeps consumers engaged and invested in our brand.”

Mark DiCristina, VP of Brand Experience with Intuit MailChimp, echoed the sentiment of evolving consumer expectations and the significant role of trust in the B2B sector. 

DiCristina pointed out the intricate dance of identifying relevance and audience in an era where algorithms heavily mediate consumer interactions with brands. “I think in a lot of cases, the traditional funnel serves to identify relevance and sort of find the audience… the algorithms that can identify these really targeted audiences really well,” DiCristina explained, highlighting the challenges and opportunities in adapting to the new consumer journey shaped by technology and digital platforms.

DiCristina also shared his thoughts on the transformative power of trust in building and maintaining customer relationships. 

“Trust is the bedrock of consumer loyalty in the digital age. At MailChimp, we’ve observed that customers who trust us are more likely to explore additional services, providing a tangible lift to our growth metrics,” said DiChristina, explaining how the company is building trust through transparency and authenticity: “We’re committed to being open about our processes and proactive in our communications. This transparency has been key to nurturing a trusted relationship with our users.”

The New Model: Trust as the Growth Engine

The Trust Loop posits trust not just as a static achievement but as the continuous fuel for growth, engagement and loyalty. This model is substantiated by Edelman’s finding that “78% of people are uncovering things that attract them to a brand… after the purchase,” pointing to the inception of brand loyalty and advocacy well beyond the point of sale​​.

Key statistics from Edelman’s ‘Collapse of the Purchase Funnel’ report illustrate the emerging consumer expectations and behaviors that support this model:

  • Consumers are increasingly scrutinizing brands, with 68% being more price-conscious and 58% engaging in more research before making a purchase.
  • Concerns about a brand’s impact on health (64%) and the environment (55%) are becoming more pronounced.
  • The geopolitical origin of brands plays a significant role in purchasing decisions, with 77% of consumers hesitant to buy from brands based in certain countries.

In delineating the Trust Loop, the panel—and the report—collectively emphasize the necessity for brands to actively engage consumers through trustworthy actions, transparent communication and meaningful interactions. This engagement fosters a deeper sense of loyalty and advocacy among consumers, transforming the purchase from an endpoint to a beginning.

To effectively navigate the Trust Loop and foster deeper consumer loyalty and advocacy, brands must adopt strategies that prioritize trust, transparency and ongoing engagement. 

What Does The Trust Loop Model Look Like?

The general principles of Edelman’s Trust Loop can be summarized in several key steps or phases that illustrate how trust is built, maintained and utilized to create a continuous cycle of engagement and loyalty:

  • Brand Discovery: Consumers encounter the brand for the first time, often through media, word-of-mouth, or by direct engagement. First impressions are crucial, as they lay the groundwork for trust.
  • Engagement and Interaction: After discovery, consumers engage with the brand through various channels. This phase is where the brand has the opportunity to showcase its values, transparency, and reliability, further building trust.
  • Purchase Decision: Influenced by the trust built in the previous steps, consumers decide to make a purchase. Trust plays a critical role in this decision, especially in competitive markets.
  • Post-Purchase Experience: The relationship between the consumer and the brand doesn’t end with the purchase. Post-purchase engagement, support, and the quality of the product or service itself are pivotal in reinforcing or undermining trust.
  • Trust Reinforcement: Through continued positive experiences, trust is reinforced. Brands can foster this by consistently delivering on promises, engaging in transparent communication, and responding effectively to consumer feedback.
  • Loyalty and Advocacy: Trust turns customers into loyal advocates for the brand. Loyal customers not only continue to choose the brand over others but also recommend it to others, expanding the brand’s reach and starting the Trust Loop anew with new consumers.
  • Continuous Feedback and Improvement: The loop is sustained by continuously gathering consumer feedback and using it to improve products, services, and engagement strategies. This shows consumers that the brand values their input and is committed to excellence, further deepening trust.

The Trust Loop emphasizes an ongoing, reciprocal relationship between brands and consumers, where trust is not seen as a static achievement but as a dynamic, ever-evolving aspect of the consumer-brand relationship. By focusing on building and maintaining trust throughout all interactions, brands can create a virtuous cycle that enhances loyalty, advocacy, and long-term success.

How Should Brands Approach The Trust Loop?

Drawing on insights from the “2023 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: The Collapse of the Purchase Funnel” and best practices in the industry, this can be accomplished through:

  1. Cultivating Trust Through Consistent Actions

Brands must demonstrate their commitment to trustworthiness through consistent, action-oriented behavior. This includes delivering on promises, maintaining high-quality standards, and addressing consumer concerns promptly. For instance, 88% of consumers emphasize trust as a critical purchasing consideration, underscoring the need for brands to act ethically and competently.

  1. Transparent Communication

Transparency is key to building and maintaining trust. Brands should openly communicate about their practices, policies, and changes. This includes being upfront about product sourcing, and environmental impact, and addressing any negative issues or crises directly. The report highlights that transparency about a brand’s climate impact and supply chain can significantly increase consumer trust (63% agreement).

  1. Engaging in Meaningful Interactions

Meaningful interactions go beyond transactional exchanges. Brands should engage consumers through personalized communication, respond to feedback, and create a community around shared values. Engaging content, interactive platforms, and community initiatives can all serve to deepen the relationship between brands and consumers. The report indicates that 79% of consumers appreciate direct interactions with brands as it allows them to evaluate the brand beyond its products.

  1. Showcasing Values and Ethics

Today’s consumers are more likely to support brands that align with their values and take stands on social and environmental issues. Demonstrating commitment to causes such as sustainability, social justice, and diversity can attract and retain consumers who share these values. For instance, 64% of consumers expect brands to make it easy to see their values when making a purchase decision.

  1. Leveraging Customer Advocacy

Word-of-mouth and customer advocacy are powerful tools in the Trust Loop. Encouraging satisfied customers to share their experiences can attract new consumers and reinforce trust. Brands can facilitate this by creating shareable content, incentivizing referrals, and featuring customer testimonials prominently.

  1. Continuous Improvement Based on Feedback

Actively seeking and acting on customer feedback demonstrates a brand’s commitment to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction. This approach not only helps in refining products and services but also shows consumers that their opinions are valued, further building trust.

  1. Personalization and Customization

Offering personalized experiences and customized products can significantly enhance consumer engagement and loyalty. Utilizing data analytics to understand consumer preferences and tailoring communications, offers, and products to meet individual needs can make consumers feel valued and understood.

By implementing these strategies, brands can effectively operate within the Trust Loop, transforming the purchase process from a linear journey into an ongoing cycle of engagement, trust-building, and mutual growth. This paradigm shift recognizes that in the modern marketplace, trust is the cornerstone of brand success, and continuous engagement is the pathway to achieving it.


The transition from the purchase funnel to the Trust Loop represents a broader shift in marketing toward trust-based relationships. 

This new consumer landscape demands a more nuanced, trust-based approach to marketing. The insights shared by Igwe and DiCristina, backed by the comprehensive data from Edelman’s report, indicate how the Trust Loop can be a powerful strategic blueprint for fostering lasting connections in an ever-evolving marketplace. This new model challenges marketers to rethink their strategies, placing trust, engagement, and ongoing interaction at the heart of brand growth and consumer loyalty.

Read more insights from Edelman’s report and listen to the full audio recording of the ‘Death of the Purchase Funnel’ panel here.