This post appears courtesy of Edelman. The full study, 2018 Edelman Earned Brand, can be found here.

Summary
Today more than ever, people are weighing a brand’s principles just as much as its products. In Edelman’s annual global study of how brands earn, strengthen and protect their relationship with consumers, the study revealed that 64 percent of consumers are now self-identifying as Belief-Driven Buyers, a 13 point increase since 2017. The study finds that consumers believe brands are a more powerful force for societal change than government. A majority of respondents (53 percent) believe that brands can do more to solve social ills than the government, and 54 percent believe it is easier for people to get brands to address social problems than to get government to act.

The study also found that 56 percent of consumers believe marketers spend too much time looking for ways to force people to pay attention to their messages and not enough time thinking of ways to make people want to pay attention. Brand communication delivered through earned media was more successful in engaging a consumers’ attention than paid advertising and owned media. Consumers are also just as likely to express purchase intent after seeing a values-led communication (43 percent) as they are after seeing a product-focused message (44 percent).

Methodology
This study surveyed 8 different markets: Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. An online survey that was sent to 8,000 respondents (1,000 in each market) focused on belief-driven buying and measured respondents’ general attitudes toward brands and their reactions to two different communications – one focused on product features and one on the brand’s stand – from 16 different brands. In the mobile survey, 32,000 respondents (4,000 from each market) were asked to describe their experience with the next brand communication they noticed naturally.

Key Findings
The study found six truths about brands taking a stand:

  • People believe that brands can lead societal change.
  • Belief-driven buying is now a mainstream mindset.
  • All ages and income now buy on belief.
  • Brands can take a stand across a spectrum of action.
  • A brand’s stand drives purchase intent and advocacy.
  • A brand’s stand matters at every consumer interaction.

Other key findings from the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study include:

  • Nearly half (46 percent) of all consumers believe that brands have better ideas for solving our country’s problems than government.
  • A majority (60 percent) of respondents say brands should make it easier to see what their values and positions on important issues are when they are about to make a purchase.
  • 56 percent of people believe that marketers spend too much time looking for ways to force them to pay attention to their messages and not enough time thinking of ways to make them want to pay attention.
  • At 45 percent, a brand communication delivered on earned media — a combination of social and mainstream media – was more successful in engaging consumers’ attention than paid advertising (29 percent) and owned media (25 percent). *This finding is from an ancillary mobile survey of 32,000 consumers in the same eight markets.

Implications for Practice
The results of the study suggest that brands should learn how to take a stand on societal issues. Before a brand can determine where it should fall on the spectrum, clearly defining its values and deciding how much risk it can take are necessary first steps. A brand should also consider how well the stand will resonate with its audience, where to tell the story and who will tell it.

 

Jamie Honowitz is a communications assistant for the Institute for Public Relations. She is also a public relations student at the University of Florida. Follow her on Twitter @jamiehonowitz__.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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