WHAT DOES A BRAND HAVE TO DO TO CONVINCE A SHOPPER TO CHOOSE IT ABOVE ALL OTHERS?
What does a brand have to do to convince a shopper to choose it above all others? It must embody—and communicate—two vital factors: trust and dynamism. Though the optimal combination will vary by geography and category, no brand will win for long without encapsulating both. And, more and more, both trust and dynamism are linked to social responsibility. Consumers understand that businesses have to make money, but they want them to earn their profits in the right way. Social media has created a world of radical transparency and given people the power to reward brands that act responsibly and punish those that do not. The new price of doing well is doing good.
Brand preference and loyalty are not static; they must be earned and re-earned over time. With this study, GCG explores what brands must do to stay relevant in consumers’ lives. This has always been important but is especially vital at a time when consumers have so many choices at retail. The study draws on findings from an online survey of 10,219 men and women in 31 countries.
Key findings include:
Social brands win. Consumers’ perceptions of brands are increasingly tied to their sociability—how they interact with consumers and others, especially in the digital sphere. Most people now consider a strong social media presence an important factor in brand reputation.
The value of “local” is tied more to actions than provenance. Though “buying local” has gained favor in developed markets in recent years, a brand’s provenance is less important than how it behaves locally and the extent to which it caters to local preferences and needs.
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. As companies have grown larger and more powerful, consumers’ expectations of them have magnified. Eighty percent of Prosumers and 65% of the mainstream believe that businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change. It is no longer acceptable to operate solely in service to one’s profits.
Consumers want a role to play. Consumers don’t just want brands to do good; they want to be able to contribute to the effort—and feel good about themselves as a result. A growing number of brands—from TOMS (shoes) and Warby Parker (eyewear) to Smile Squared (toothbrushes) and One World Futbol (soccer balls)—are adopting a “buy one, give one” model, enabling each purchase to double as a donation to a person in need.
Transparency is essential to trust. Companies can no longer hide behind iron gates, parceling out information as they see fit. Consumers expect full disclosure on a whole host of subjects, from environmental impact to the treatment of workers.
Employees have the potential to be a brand’s best advocates—or most damaging detractors. Policies or no policies, employees are going to talk about where they work—and that can be a tremendous boon or bane in the era of social media. In fact, according to our respondents, what employees say about a company online is more convincing than any advertising or news article.