How Brands Are Falling Short With Consumers

Edelman-How-Brands-Fall-Short-With-Consumers-Oct2014Almost 9 in 10 consumers want more meaningful relationships with brands, yet fewer than 1 in 5 believe brands are delivering on that wish, details Edelman in its second annual “brandshare” report. The study, based on surveys of 15,000 consumers in 12 countries who have had some level of engagement with brands, also finds that consumers believe they¬†get the short end of the stick when it comes to the value exchange with brands.

Some two-thirds of respondents believe that brands that ask them to share with them (such as personal information or stories) don’t share with them in return, labeling it a one-sided rather than shared relationship. Moreover, 7 in 10 feel that brands have a self-centered desire to increase profits rather than a sincere commitment to their customers.

With such skepticism evident, the Edelman survey identifies several areas in which brands can improve in order to build and maintain effective connections with consumers. For example, while 78% of respondents feel it’s important (top-2 box on a 5-point scale) that brands respond quickly to people’s concerns and complaints, just 17% feel that brands perform well in this respect. And while 59% believe it important that brands give consumers many ways to ask questions and give opinions, only 18% feel that brands are delivering in this area.

Brands aren’t only failing when it comes to building a more inclusive relationship with consumers, though. The survey also identifies a number of issues related to corporate social responsibility (CSR) in which brands are also falling short. There are, for example, large gaps between perceived importance and actual performance in the way in which brands communicate about how products are sourced and made, how brands are using their resources to drive change in the world, and how they take a stand on issues that consumers care most about. (This is the latest piece of research to focus on the importance of CSR – more here.)

What this means, per the researchers, is that brands no longer have to just fill consumers’ rational and emotional needs, but they have to meet their societal needs, also (“as defined by people’s confidence that a brand cares about things other than itself, people feel good about a brand’s commitment to its community and people’s belief in a brand’s core purpose and mission.”) The study notes that this need extends beyond traditional CSR – as the invitation for people to take part in the development and refinement of products and services emerges as one of the most satisfying societal behaviors for brands to engage in.

Not surprisingly, brands that are able to meet these three need states (rational, emotional and societal) can expect a greater inclination on the part of consumers to recommend and share brand content, defend a brand, and purchase from the brand.

Coverage of Edelman’s 2013 survey can be found here.

About the Data: The study is based on an online survey of 15,000 people across 12 countries: Australia; Brazil; Canada; China; France; Germany; India; Japan; Mexico; the Netherlands; the UK; and the USA.

Participants were required to have participated in one brand engaging activity in the last 12 months. Such activities could include visiting a brand website, attending a brand-sponsored event, following a brand on Twitter, wearing branded clothing, etc…

The survey measured attitudes to 199 brands; 48 multi-national, plus roughly 15 “local” brands per country.