Would consumers care if your brand disappeared? Probably not, says Havas study

Today, approximately 76% of brands in Asia could disappear and nobody would care. According to Havas Group’s 2019 Meaningful Brands study, modern consumers want meaningful, useful and relevant content from brands, rather than just have the products deliver on functional benefits, Maria Garrido, chief insights and analytics officer for Havas Group and senior vice president, brand marketing, Vivendi said at a recent closed door event.

According to her, marketers should not worry about "being the biggest brand" but rather, understanding the expectations that consumers have and delivering against them. There are three areas that consumers consider – functional, personal and collective. Specifically, a product is functional when it delivers on a rational basis what it can do, whereas on a personal level, consumers want to know how brands can improve their quality of life. On a collective level, consumers are also on the lookout for brands that work on initiatives that impact society.
In Asia specifically, 37% of consumers consider a brand to be meaningful when it has functional benefits, while 32% of consumers view it to be meaningful when it has personal benefits.

Globally, Garrido said that for the last five years, there has been a gap in the area of personal expectation. Brands have not been delivering against consumers’ expectations of what they should be receiving as an individual and how the brand is contributing to their quality of life. Also, about 77% of people want to buy from brands that share their personal values, Garrido said.

“Advocacy has become part of the consumer decision journey and for brands. About 76% of people are willing to talk about and share their experiences with the brand when they consider it meaningful, which is increasingly a driver of their purchase decision,” she added.

It is common for brands to launch a campaign or produce content around a social cause. Nike, for example, made waves with its Colin Kaepernick ad last year, while Gillette caused chatter among netizens with its “We Believe” ad. While advocating for a cause can help brands improve their standing among consumers, Garrido said it is important for brands not to “hijack” a cause just because it is trending or happens to be popular with the younger consumers.

“You need to make sure that the values you convey as a brand match up to whatever social or environmental cause you are trying to advocate. People look for authenticity,” she said.

She also added that consumers today are demanding for more human interaction. Younger consumers in particular, want an opportunity to co-create with brands and be part of the experience. The role of content, Garrido said, will be different based on the particular industry of the brand. For example, consumers expect apparel brands to create entertaining, inspirational and rewarding content more so than educational content.

Besides being entertaining, inspirational and rewarding, brands should also look at creating content that is helpful and informative. According to Garrido, content does not only involve videos. Instead, it also includes loyalty programmes, discounts, events and live experiences.

How to create great content?

Predictability, relatability and empathy are the three key aspects that social media website SGAG looks out for when creating content for its audience. Co-founder Karl Mak, said that the team views content as a science. According to him, having content that is “super unpredictable” is a good formula for success. He added that good content has to be relatable and since the social media website is also available in Malaysia and the Philippines as MGAG and PGAG respectively, the team strives to produce localised content for Singaporeans, Malaysians and Filipinos.

“That is done because we want local people to laugh at local content. We are not going to make a generic piece and expect it to travel around the world. We really go local,” Mak said.

SGAG also goes deep into its users’ journeys and analyses data before publishing a piece of content. For example, a short two to three minute video will most likely do better in the mornings when viewers are commuting to work, while a 12 minute video will be more well received by viewers who are unwinding on a Sunday evening.

While data is important, supervising editor of CNA Lifestyle Phin Wong said that it should still remain as a guiding tool for brands. “You have to let it inform you but you also have to trust yourself at one point,” he said, adding that companies need to hire the right people with the “gut feeling” to create content, which comes from years of experience.

Wong said that it is important for brands to know the space that they are working in and aspects such as which competitors the target audience is reacting well to and how they can do the same.

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While Havas Group classified meaningful content as something that educates, entertains and informs consumers, automotive marketplace Carro focuses on these three aspects – skills, spirit and structure. Group marketing officer Manisha Seewal said that the company believes in the entrepreneurial spirit of challenging the status quo and creating content to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. Working with INSEAD, Carro plans to hire fresh graduates and interns to show them how the company plans to disrupt the market. It also teaches employees and interns the spirit of entrepreneurship as well as educate them on the spirit of failing quickly, fixing the problem and moving forward.

“It’s really building that spirit of you don’t have to fear. Just try something and if it fails, nobody is going to hold it against you. Just move forward and change things,” Seewal said. In essence, the content Carro creates is a good representation of the spirit and values that the company represents.

Also weighing in on the conversation was Chaitan Rao, Friesland Campina’s CMO, who said that the real life human experience has taken a backseat in the digital age. According to him, consumers want to feel that brands are interacting with them in authentic ways.

“For me, content is experience and those experiences sit outside of the screen,” Rao said. While he welcomes the use of data in marketing and believes in the power of digital, Rao said that it is still important to put humans at the centre of everything and think about the experience they are seeking.

(Photo courtesy: 123RF)