Three-quarters of Australians have “no qualms” publicly shaming brands that do wrong: Study

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The majority of Australian consumers have no problem with hanging brands out to dry when something goes wrong, even if they previously were fond of that brand, according to recent research from communications firm WE Buchan.

The Brands in Motion study highlighted how important it is for brands to build significant and ongoing connections with consumers in what is now an ever-evolving marketplace, and how staying static can work against them.

Conducted across Australia, China, Germany, South Africa, the UK and the US, the study examined rational and emotional drivers motivating customer choices, and how brands today are in a “constant state of motion”.

More than 4500 consumers and 1000 business decision-makers were interviewed per country, with six brand categories examined in Australia: computing devices, smart home, finance/banking, health/wellness, enterprise technology and enterprise healthcare.

“For brands to compete, they must accept that positioning is dead and they need to understand the forces propelling them forward,” WE Buchan chief executive Rebecca Wilson commented.

“Brands must build strong emotional and rational connections with consumers, and embrace the motion around them – not fight against it.”

Based on the survey findings, WE Buchan revealed four “realities” for brands in Australia.

Stability matters

High numbers of consumers (83% in Australia) believe brands are capable of providing security in uncertain times, according to the survey.

“Given this, more brands should be looking to capitalise on this opportunity by offering new value to their customers as a stabilising force,” WE Buchan said.

Shame on you

The report found brands need to develop strong emotional connections with consumers to maintain loyalty, especially in times of crisis.

Almost three quarters of survey respondents in Australia said they’d have “no qualms publicly shaming a brand or industry in a crisis where it was at fault – even if they had previously loved them”, according to WE Buchan.

Innovative brands rate well

There is a correlation between perceptions of innovation and positive brand outcomes, according to the report.

While brands with high innovation perceptions were more likely to be loved, brands with low innovation perceptions were “more than likely to have lower social impact and customer experience perceptions”.

The “Unilever effect”

Increasingly, consumers expect that brands will take a stand on important social issues. WE Buchan describes this as the “Unilever effect”, based on the work of Unilever chief executive Paul Polman to make the consumer goods company more socially responsible.

In Australia, 69% of surveyed consumers said they expect brands to take a stance on important issues, and this is almost as important in their purchasing decision making process as the quality of goods and services on offer.

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