With an array of talent, multiple channels, enviable insights, and ever-more sophisticated tools at your disposal, the job of a CMO should be simpler than ever. But is it?
No? I thought not. So when exactly did marketing get so complicated?
A major driver of this growing complexity is trust—or, more precisely, a lack of it among consumers. We wanted to understand how CMOs could respond to this emerging scepticism, and so this year’s Connected Life study focused on how cynicism is shaping engagement globally and by vertical.
We gathered insights from 72,000 consumers around the world and found that—despite being global citizens in an increasingly connected world—the local context matters significantly. We’re all guilty, to some extent, of assuming that consumers are increasingly homogenous. They’re not. Cultures differ, and not all markets are created equally.
World Of Trust
We found a “trust divide” between the “suspicious minds” in developed countries and more responsive attitudes in developing economies. In Europe and North America, a general mistrust of the “establishment,” and the global businesses that are seen to be part of it, is leading to a preference for closer communities. This could be the driver behind smaller, or local, brands that are seen to be outside of the establishment. This picture is very different in large parts of Asia and Africa, where the presence of big brands denotes quality and, as a result, trust.
This divergence is especially important for global brands’ presence on social channels, which, by their nature, have to reflect a local and channel-specific context. Nike is a brand that understands this, creating content that generates millions of likes on Facebook and makes it the most followed big brand on Instagram, tailored to appeal to consumers in each market when appropriate, rather than simply repurposed across multiple markets and channels.
Be Open, Be Clear
But context isn’t the only consideration. Transparency—specifically brands being clear about how they intend to use personal data—matters. Consumers, particularly in developed markets, tell us they are concerned with how much information companies have on them. They can’t see how their data is being used and what they’re getting in return, leading to many people feeling worried and creeped out. Being clear, by not expecting consumers to review 12 pages of consent forms, will itself build trust.
Collect only the information you need, avoid the temptation to target consumers too frequently, look after their personal data as if it were your own, and make sure that you consider what the customer is getting in return.
There are positive examples of brands using customer data to provide products and services of real value. Bank of Åland in Finland has launched a new credit card that uses customer data to calculate the individual carbon footprint of each purchase the customer makes on their card. Customers then receive an environmental report in their mobile banking app with suggestions on how to offset their carbon footprint. And, of course, you need to use this card on as many transactions as possible so the company saw a good return on their investment—both in the money they invested, and the trust that was invested in them by their customers.
Brands won’t stop collecting the data they need, nor will consumers stop signing up to services that are genuinely useful to them, but greater openness and transparency will make the value exchange between consumer and brand much more equitable.
Innovate In Context
The third key finding is that people have certain expectations of brand behaviour.
Poor, inauthentic, or badly explained deployment of new innovations can erode consumer trust very quickly. The current trend for chatbots and artificial intelligence in customer service functions is a good example of this. For some customers, this is additive to their experience. For others, it won’t appeal, and it can erode rather than enhance confidence in a brand.
When done well, however, it can be very powerful. The National Health Service in Britain has launched an artificial intelligence app for new mothers to support and advise them on breastfeeding, which works as a live chat tool that can respond to questions posed by the user. The app doesn’t just provide personal support, it also helps people who may have felt uncomfortable about asking a real person for advice, so the app makes it possible to avoid real or imagined judgment from another person.
When brands innovate in ways that fit the context of the people they’re developing new products or services for, it can be similarly empowering. People and bots will need to work side by side, as, for the time being, there are clear distinctions about what humans should offer, and what bots can do. Our study showed that bots are best for when people are looking for quick, factual information, or non-judgmental advice, while people are best for when you need an emotional connection and empathy, such as when dealing with a complaint. Brands shouldn’t be afraid to take risks, but they need to take people with them, making their customers’ lives easier, not more complicated.
No matter what kind of trust brands are trying to build, and no matter where in the world they’re trying to do it, the Connected Life qualitative interviews showed that building trust as a brand means exactly the same thing as building trust in personal relationships. For consumers to trust you, they must identify with you, see your integrity, and feel included in the relationship.
The strategies to achieve this will vary by country, category, and consumer, but, wherever you are in the world, these are crucial components of a trusting relationship.
To find out more: http://connectedlife.tnsglobal.com