Edelman Study: Consumers Weigh A Brand’s Principles As Much As Its Products

The latest edition of the public relations firm’s Earned Brand Study spoke to consumers who wanted to engage with brands whose social values matched their own.

If you want your brand to stand for something other than itself, now’s a good time to speak up.

That’s according to Edelman, the major public relations firm, which revealed this week that nearly two-thirds of the consumers it surveyed (64 percent) based their brand associations, good or bad, on the brand’s stances on political or cultural issues. The top-line finding from the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand Study highlights the way politics and commerce play off each other in the shifting cultural climate.

“Today more than ever, consumers are putting their faith in brands to stand for something,” the report states. “To do the right thing. To help solve societal and political problems. Whether people are shopping for soap or shoes, they’re weighing a brand’s principles as much as its products. Opting out of taking a stand is no longer an option for brands.”

The survey, based on responses from 8,000 people from eight countries, found that these belief-driven consumers were consistent across the globe, among every major adult age group, and for every income level—with younger consumers and higher-income consumers most likely to make purchasing decisions based on social beliefs. The U.S., U.K., and Japan saw significant growth on this issue in the 2018 edition of the report.

In a news release, the agency’s namesake CEO, Richard Edelman, noted that brands are being pushed beyond their traditional comfort zones and being called upon to act as agents of change.

“It is a new relationship between company and consumer, where purchase is premised on the brand’s willingness to live its values, act with purpose, and if necessary, make the leap into activism,” he said.

Other key findings from the survey results [PDF]:

Can brands save the day? The report suggests that roughly half of consumers put more weight into the strength of the brand than they do their respective governments. The report found that 46 percent of respondents felt that brands often had better ideas than governments, 53 percent felt that brands were better equipped to tackle societal ills, and 54 percent believed that working with brands was easier than working with a government body.

Don’t force the issue. The survey found that 56 percent of respondents felt marketers were too focused on trying to force consumers to pay attention, rather than figuring out ways to make consumers want to do so on their own accord. In the same spirit, just 16 percent of respondents said they paid attention when brands interrupted their day, while 84 percent said that when they were actively engaged, they were more likely to respond.

(artisteer/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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