Consumers have lost faith in brands. A global consumer research study, “Brand Sustainable Futures”, by Havas Media, of over 30 000 people spanning 4 continents and 9 markets found that two thirds of consumers say that they don’t care whether the majority of brands survive or not. In my opinion, it’s a shocking revelation and shows that there is a lot of work to be done in restabilising the trust; a lot of TLC: tender loving care. I believe the disconnect has happened because brands didn’t seem to care about consumers or what consumers cared about. Why should consumers then care about brands?

Consumers want you to play a bigger role in their lives. In fact, the same research showed that an estimated 80% of consumers expect corporations not only to take care of shareholders, but also play a significant part in solving the problems of society; from ensuring good jobs, making donations and going beyond legal requirements to minimise pollution and other negative effects. Alfonso Rodés Vilà, CEO of Havas Media adds to these findings, “Brand Sustainable Futures highlights that sustainability is no longer about responsibility; it’s about survival. Companies must embrace sustainability as part of their core business and start developing a fluid dialogue with shared thinking with consumers and other key networks in society so that their brands contribute to a meaningful purpose.”

Unfortunately, research from the Natural Marketing Institute in 2011 shows that brands still have a long way to go: 41% of US consumers state, “I don’t believe what companies are saying about their efforts to protect the environment.” This also highlights the difference between the high consumer intent and their actual behaviour when it comes to buying sustainable products. Again, there is a lack of trust. This is the task that is left on your table; rebuilding the relationship with consumers and rebuilding the trust by making a real difference for people and planet. It is no longer enough to say that you are doing good, consumers must be able to see it, feel it and believe it.

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Thomas Kolster © 2019

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