Navigating the consumer landscape
A compass for brand builders
The world around us is ever-changing, and consequently, so is the consumer landscape. It should come as no surprise then that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for brands to understand and respond to consumer attitudes and behaviors.
That’s why MetrixLab and Stichting Adverteerdersjury Nederland (SAN) have come together to create a ‘consumer compass’ to help brands better understand how and why consumers make certain decisions what they expect from the brands they buy from. Using our state-of-the-art research solution Immerse, we conducted two interactive sessions centered on social issues and their influence on consumer decision-making processes. Let’s dive into the results.
What matters to consumers
To consumers, it’s important that brands take a stance on the social issues that matter to them. Our sessions revealed a variety of issues that are of concern to consumers, including climate change, war, rising prices, and the housing crisis, to name a few.
That said, when it comes to brands acknowledging social issues, brand authenticity plays a crucial role. This is because many consumers have grown skeptical about brands’ claims around social issues, given that brands tend to address these issues superficially rather than with genuine regard.
In other words, while many brands do take a socially responsible position, consumers are suspicious that these claims are ‘all talk no walk.’ As a result, there is growing cynicism towards such claims, and they’re often viewed as a marketing or PR stunt aimed at increasing the brand’s public appeal (and ultimately, profits).
The bottom line is this: if brands are not authentic in their communications, consumers will see right through their claims. On the other hand, when brands are authentic and take a real stance on issues consumers care about, consumers are more likely to trust them and justify paying higher prices for their products.
The good news is that marketers recognize this. There is, however, a downside: it is possible that brands’ claims, although authentic, may cause polarization among target groups. The reality is that you can’t please everyone, so whatever stance a brand may take is likely to face disapproval by certain consumers.
Boosting consumer trust: how brands can get it right
According to our results, 50% of consumers feel more emotionally connected to brands when the brand handles social issues in the right way. But what exactly is the right way?
We’ve rounded up 3 pillars to set brands up on the right track:
1. Resonate with consumers’ values
It’s important to consumers that brands share their values and that these values are aligned with their own. This encourages positive reactions to brand activism. Knowing and addressing the values of your target group helps build an emotional bond.
2. Credibility and realism
Avoid exaggeration in your ads – instead, focus on credibility. Choose social issues that relate to your brand values and communicate them in the way you would usually communicate to achieve a sense of authenticity.
3. Transparency and proof
Clearly communicate how the brand is making a positive impact on social issues. The proof is in the pudding, so providing a window into concrete activities helps increase trust among consumers.
It is important to incorporate these pillars in the entire marketing mix. Only then can your brand build and maintain consumer consumer trust.
Reaping the rewards of social responsibility
The good news is that most consumers won’t hold back from paying higher prices to socially responsible companies – as long as they are honest and transparent about where the money is going. In fact, 63% of consumers expect socially responsible brands to be more expensive, as costs of production are expected to be higher due to factors like fair wages, the use of sustainable materials, etc.
The findings from our session revealed that it isn’t just important for brands to speak out about social issues; it’s how they talk about them that is truly important. Transparency, credibility, and evidence of claims are key.
As the world becomes more complex, social issues will continue to play a significant role in advertising and brand communications. It’s important that brands truly understand where consumers stand regarding these issues, what they expect from brands, and how brands can incorporate these expectations into their marketing strategy authentically.
Our e-book, “Compass for brand builders” offers a more in-depth account of the results of our study and their implications. From exploring top-of-mind social issues to insights on how brands can respond to consumer opinions and attitudes, the e-book is a valuable resource for bridging the gap between your brand and consumers.