What a company stands for is beginning to be as important as the quality of its product, new research by customer reviews platform Feefo suggests.
The Feefo Brand Perception Report 2021 looks at how modern consumers perceive and interact with their favourite brands. It found that almost three-quarters of the 2,000 Britons surveyed always consider a brand’s values before purchasing. These values often include notions such as sustainability ethics and transparency, with 57% of UK consumers saying companies should be socially and environmentally responsible.
Vic Heyward, Brand Marketing and Communications Manager, Bright, said: “This newer focus on brand accountability for sustainable initiatives can feel daunting for some, especially if you’re not at the forefront of an environmental revolution. For brands like this, taking a step back to reflect on your brand purpose, code of ethics or CSR policy can be an enlightening experience and a way to further engage prospects and employees.”
The report, which also looks at the shift online and how this has been accelerated due to the ongoing pandemic, uncovered some interesting behaviours around internet shopping. One such finding showed that, despite their seeming hold over a generation of internet users, the power of so-called social media ‘influencers’ seems to be on the wane. Only 12% of those surveyed said that if they liked a celebrity influencer who was endorsing a product, the brand would benefit from a positive association. Alternatively, almost two-thirds of those questioned said that celebrities and influencers being associated with a brand has absolutely no effect on how they think of the brand.
Jonathan Emmins, Founder, Amplify, said: “The mask has dropped on ‘influencers’ as consumers are astute and can see whether the relationship between influencer and brand is authentic, deep and adds value to their lives. For this reason, many brands are stepping away from using celebrities and instead moving towards campaigns that work with real and more relatable talent; people who share the brand’s values, passions or interests. This gives brands authenticity and permission to play in the focus area, audience or sector. Plus, there’s an added benefit here: collaborations and co-creation campaigns with emerging talent don’t carry the same hefty price tag as top-tier celebrity advertising. This helps brands create a larger volume of more interesting, engaging and entertaining content which can be targeted at pockets of the audience, rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy.”
The findings suggest consumers are increasingly willing to hold brands up to a set of standards they believe all good companies should espouse. The research shows that these standards are not just confined to social and green issues, but also include an aversion to businesses with bad working practices. When asked to name ways companies act that make them appear in a negative light, the top three responses were: spam email marketing (29%); slow response to inquiries (29%); and annoying advertising (23%).
This may not be such as surprise when you think of the demographic of those using internet shopping. Not only are the younger generations now internet and social media savvy enough to see through more traditional methods of online manipulation, but increasing numbers of older generation are also choosing the web as their first choice for shopping. And notions of loyalty, ethics and fairness are often held in high esteem by that age group.
Now more than ever, businesses are choosing to put more resources into understanding how their customers think and what they want from a brand. Brand purpose and social responsibility are no longer distinct from commerce. Companies are learning that their impact on the world will directly affect how they are perceived by customers, and if customers don’t like what they see, it is all too easy for them to let their fingers do the talking and click on to the next shop on Googles search results page. Keith Povey, Director of Marketing at Feefo, said: “The Feefo Brand Perception Report 2021 clearly highlights the need, and opportunity, for brands to invest more in defining who they are, what they believe in and how they operate. Effectively communicating this demonstrates how, by giving business to the brand, the customers will be supporting a transparent, trustworthy and socially responsible business. In other words, it is imperative to invest in creating a brand with a purpose.”