Brands are failing to perform in the areas consumers deem most important to building and maintaining connections with them, details a new study from Edelman. The researchers surveyed 11,000 online consumers who reported participating in a minimum of one brand engaging activity (such as following a brand on Twitter) in the previous year. The study, which took place across 8 countries and measured attitudes to the performance of 48 multinational brands and about 30 “local” brands per country, identifies some areas where brands are far behind in meeting consumer needs.
The biggest gap between importance and performance came in the area of “communicating openly and transparently about how products are sourced and made.” While 54% of respondents considered that an important area (top-2 box on a 5-point scale) for brands to build and maintain connections with them, just 12% on average believed that the statement applied to the brands in question.
That 42% point gap may have been the largest, but not by much. Close behind, consumers feel that brands underperforming in asking them about their needs, with 51% seeing this as important and only 10% feeling that brands are doing this well, for a 41% point gap. Other major gaps included:
- “Listens and responds thoughtfully” (39% point gap);
- “Gives back to community” (37% point gap);
- “Openly offers information on how the brand performs against competitors” (37% point gap); and
- “Conducts business in ways that align with people’s values (36% point gap).
The data suggests that consumers are less interested in brands making the sharing experience easier. For example, just one-quarter of respondents said that it was important for brands to enable people to share information, stories and videos with friends. Similarly, only 30% find it important that brands link people and the brand online and in real life through events and activities.
Instead, to foster connections, consumers are more interested in being asked about their needs, being listened to, and being invited to test products and provide feedback.
Previous research has indicated that marketers can mine social media for innovation ideas, and that those companies that involve customers in their innovation processes show heightened levels of satisfaction with those processes.