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Is Consumer Trust the Foundation of Everything?

By Jennifer Polk | November 07, 2019 | 0 Comments

Efforts to target and optimize marketing and advertising have reached a fever pitch with 87% of B2C marketers deploying personalization tactics. At the same time, we see evidence consumers have grown wise to–and perhaps weary of–brand efforts to feign intimacy and influence behavior.

Algorithms Exposed

In Algorithm Hacking Puts Marketers’ Data and Personalization Efforts At Risk, we explore consumer awareness of algorithms, feelings toward this technology and–most alarming–efforts to thwart the effectiveness of algorithms.

If we’re honest, as consumers, many of us are guilty of the latter.

Who hasn’t searched for air travel using an incognito browser to avoid price optimization? While algorithms that modify air far favor airline brands, this comes at the detriment of cost-conscious travelers.

Haven’t we all put an item in our online cart and “accidentally” left it behind, not-so-secretly hoping for retargeting email with a promotional offer? While we all love a deal, retailers and brands sacrifice margin for a transaction that would likely have happened anyway.

Although most consumer efforts to outsmart machine-driven personalization are relatively benign, they can wreak havoc on the accuracy of measurement and automation. But, there’s a bigger issue.

Issues Ignored

Marketing leaders are doubling-down on personalization designed to engage customers and achieve business objectives like revenue growth. But we may be missing an equally important opportunity to connect with consumers on issues they care about most.  U.S. consumers, often recognized and celebrated for their individualism, are starting to embrace collective solutions to societal challenges. In Socialism Shifts, we examine sentiment shifts around socialism, which are likely to be exacerbated by the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Politicism–the first cousin of socialism–can be a divisive topic and a mine field for marketers. It poses the risks of polarizing major swaths of the population alongside the threat of a marketing or business misstep that incurs the social media wrath of a powerful politician.  There are underlying drivers and core consumer values that an unite consumers and provide a platform for brands. However, brands have to thread the needle between identifying and aligning to these drivers and values while being authentic and connecting to company values.

Failure to connect with consumers on the societal issues they care about isn’t just a faux pas. It runs afoul of the growing percentage of “belief-driven buyers”, a group of consumers that has grew by 13% from 2017 to 2018. Research shows employees and consumers are increasingly interested in companies working to address societal issues.

Go Green or Go Home

Consider the implications of consumer expectations that your company get involved in societal issues.  Recognize it isn’t enough for your brand to merely engage on issues related to your sector or cause of choice. 48% of consumers expect companies to take a public position on social issues regardless of their relevance to corporate objectives.

And the #1 societal issue consumers care about is….drum roll please…climate change.

In Too Late to Shop Green, we look at a series of catalysts that have led many consumers to hold corporations accountable for both current environmental conditions and a seemingly irreversible trajectory.  59% of consumers who think climate change is an urgent issue, also say corporations are most to blame.

Thankfully, the outlook for brands may be better than the forecast for the planet. From establishing to communicating  green initiatives, brand’s have a path forward, though it will take policy changes, no just a creative campaign.

Step back from each of these issues individually and look at them in aggregate. We focus on data-driven signals of intent, which may be accurate or manufactured. Yet, we may be missing more prominent clues into changing core values. The latter is just as likely to affect near-term purchase decisions and long-term brand affinity and loyalty.

Review this week’s analyst picks and headlines for:

  • More information on consumer behavioral trends
  • Insight into how those trends might impact your business or brand, and
  • Recommendations to help marketers adapt to these ever-changing times

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