Edelman to brands: share more with consumers

Brands can derive "significant" business value from sharing more, but consumers believe few companies are actually doing so effectively, according to a study from Edelman released on Thursday.

NEW YORK: Brands can derive “significant” business value from sharing more, but consumers believe few companies are actually doing so effectively, according to a study from Edelman released on Thursday.

Edelman's Brandshare report examined the link between business value and brand sharing. It correlated forms of brand sharing, such as shared dialogue, experience, goals, values, products, and history against business outcomes such as purchase intent and intent to recommend, based on 11,000 interviews across eight countries.

According to Jennifer Cohan, global chair of consumer marketing at Edelman, when most people talk about “brand sharing,” they assume this means sharing content, which is a “one dimensional approach.”

The study outlines three mandates for brands to gain business value through sharing, based broadly on the headline finding that the majority of consumers (90%) want marketers to disclose more about their brands. However, only one in 10 consumers believe they are doing this effectively.

The first mandate is for brands to change their marketing ethos and involve consumers in every part of the brand-development process, rather than just at the end. This insight comes from the finding that a shared product has one of the greatest effects on purchase decisions, with 91% of respondents saying they want a hand in the design and development process.

It also draws on the finding that openness about a product is another key factor affecting purchase decisions. Nine in 10 respondents want to know how products are made and how they fare against competitors.

The second mandate is that brands should create a singular narrative that engages people in the full brand story. The study found that shared values are the most in-demand form of sharing. More than nine in 10 (92%) respondents want to do business with brands that share their beliefs. Although companies communicate their values and history to a broad range of stakeholders well, respondents said this is not often then case when it comes to consumers.

The report's third mandate is to integrate sharing across all channels and redesign communities to actively listen and respond to consumers' questions, ideas, and needs. Four in 10 respondents said they want brands to listen and respond more thoughtfully, which is twice as many as those who want more content.

Cohan explained that the reason why consumers want to share more with brands is because social media and the Internet have created a dialogue between them.

“People now have a wider look of the world and more exposure to information. As brands have started to talk to people, their expectations have elevated. Brands have provided people with an opportunity to express their own values,” she said. “There is also a natural curiosity in people, largely driven by social media, and brands get credit if they choose to have a relationship with them.”

However, Cohan noted that “sharing is not just nice to have, [it is] something brands really need to be doing. PR professionals have a great role helping brands do that.”

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