Brands can’t just make do with a good product

Today’s consumers want the brand promise to fulfil social obligations as well

Gulf News


Consumer brands do seem to have their work cut out to connect with today’s consumer. And no longer can they just get by offering on the brand promise alone.

According to the latest Edelman Earned Brand study, 62 per cent of consumers will not buy a brand if it fails to meet societal obligations. Obviously, the rise of the millennials — the generation that came of age in the 2000’s — has much to do with brands needing to come up with a social conscience to match what they sell.

And 79 per cent of such “committed” consumers will pay a premium for their brand of choice, while a further 82 per cent will go on to recommend their preference through “likes” and “shares”.

“There is an increasing discordance between the way brands are engaging with consumers and the way consumers want to be approached,” said Carol Potter, Executive Vice-Chairman, Edelman Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa. “This discordance has contributed to a trust issue that is making consumers wary of committing and advocating for brands.

“Logically, this implies that we need to recalibrate the relationship to bring it to a stronger footing and brands today will have to invest differently to achieve this. Today, consumers value and are willing to advocate for brands that have strong stories to tell, listen intently and openly to their publics and act with purpose while contributing to societal well-being.”

The Edelman findings were based on the responses of 13,000 consumers in 13 countries and focused on the F&B, hospitality, financial services, automotive, technology, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) and fashion industries.

The study highlights how consumer engagement levels shift across multiple media platforms as the ‘brand-consumer relationship’ progresses from the early stages of “interested” and “involved” to a deeper “invested” and “committed” positions. Advertising “resonate better with consumers” in these early stages by sparking awareness and consideration. However, “leveraging a brand’s owned media channels and driving peer to peer conversations” become twice as effective as consumers move from the “involved” to the “committed” stage.

There is much more that brands need to do. The Edelman Brand Relationship Index showed that the global average for a consumer-brand relationship score was “just 38 out of a possible 100, signalling that brands have a clear opportunity to up the ante on consumer engagement and need to refocus on their role as social change-agents”, according to a statement put out by the marketing communications agency.

Respondents give brands a rating of 33 when it comes to “acting with purpose” and a 34 when they feel they “tell a memorable story”. In addition, 35 per cent did not believe that brands listened openly or responded well to consumer needs.

Interestingly enough, the study found 55 per cent of consumers believe brands have more power and potential to solve societal issues than government entities.

In a statement, Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman said: “The index confirms that marketers have done a good job getting consumers to preference and purchase, but consumers indicated they are willing to go deeper, to be committed in their brand relationships. The study shows when a consumer moves from a relationship rooted in ‘me’ to one powered by ‘we,’ a new world of buying and advocacy potential opens up for a brand.”