February 05, 2014

Brandshare 2014: It’s No Longer “If” A Brand Embraces Societal Needs; It’s Now About The “How”

Carol Cone

Carol Cone On Purpose

Research continues to show the that consumers value authenticity. In a recent survey by BBMG and Globescan, they identified a new consumer, the Aspirationals. The Aspirationals are a combined 2 billion consumers globally who unite a love for shopping, social status and sustainability values to shape new cultural norms. BBMG writes, “It’s no longer about asking consumers to buy something. It’s about inspiring them to be something by helping us reveal our best selves and realize a better world.”

What is it about a friend or a colleague that earns your trust? It’s likely because what they say and how they act is aligned and they are consistent in that behavior.

Edelmans 2014 brandshare study finds that when a brand behaves in a similar manner it earns trust with consumers. How that trust demonstrates itself is significant to brand stewards in key measures:

  • 12 percent rise in consumer propensity to recommend a brand
  • 12 percent greater probability consumers will share branded content with their social networks
  • 11 percent increase in consumer willingness to share personal data with a brand..
  • 10 percent greater likelihood consumers will defend a brand from reputational attack.
  • 8 percent escalation in purchase intent.

We learn greater insights into the “How” to earn this trust from Edelman’s two years of brandshare global research.

In 2013, the study found the two foremost ways ,“How”, was through demonstrating its values and in partnering with consumers in the co creation of products and services.

In 2014, besides expanding to an additional 7 regions around the globe, the study sought to go deeper into those areas to further inform brand marketers about the “How” — what the study calls building value exchange. For a value exchange to exist, both consumers and brands must contribute to, and recognize a benefit from, their interactions.

This is accomplished by adding societal needs to the traditional rational and emotional consumer needs delivered by brands, defined by these actions:

  • Transparency: how a product is sourced and made
  • Uses resources to drive change in the world
  • Aligning on issues important to me
  • Invites people to be part of development in ways that are meaningful

Simply stated: for a brand to gain the advocacy of a consumer, a brand needs to care and act in an authentic way about more than itself. Isnt this just like the core of your best friendships?

And great brands have a significant point of view…and take a stand on key issues.

For example: CVS discontinuing the sale of cigarettes and tobacco, and offering smoking cessation to consumers, taking a bold stand for health; Starbucks offering its partners (employees) paid college education through its College Achievement Plan: Apple moving towards 100% green energy to power its iCloud; and Tupperware on global women’s empowerment. Chipotle = food with integrity

How to discover aligned social issues? Lots of soul searching re the DNA of the brand, active listening to consumers and deftly looking into society for the key alignments.

Addressing societal needs must be inextricably linked to rational and emotional needs as part of core marketing strategy. It takes courage and conviction to move from pure rational and emotional benefits, but doing it boldly and long-term will build powerful consumer advocates for your brand.

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