WE: Brands face four realities in a rapidly changing environment

WE Communications' Brands in Motion study described four realities that brands are contending with often in 2017.

NEW YORK: Consumers are volatile; one moment they’re praising a brand and another they’re boycotting it. The Brands in Motion study from WE Communications, released on Wednesday, described four consumer realities that brands are seeing.

The Brands in Motion study views branding as fluid and dependent on many environmental factors, such as a negative tweet suddenly going viral or a CEO speaking out on a social justice issue.

The firm surveyed consumers in the U.S., U.K., and China about their expectations of brands. For one, they want brands to be a source of stability in uncertain times. Respondents also said cutting-edge brands are more likely to be working for the common good and more of a pleasure to do business with, according to the study.

The report also found consumers want brands to take active positions on social issues. It also found nine of 10 consumers would publicly shame a brand in an industry they love if it stepped out of line.

WE outlined four brand categories based on corresponding consumer realities. The "defender" is a brand that is rational but has a lower emotional connection with its customer. "Survivors" have low emotional and rational connections with their customers, and these brands risk becoming irrelevant unless they can build support, according to the study. "Agitators" have high emotional connections with their consumers, but sometimes lack credibility because of a less rational connection. Meanwhile "mover" bands have struck the balance between a rational and emotional connection with consumers.

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