The 5 top lessons from the Edelman Earned Brand study

Consumers are increasingly paying attention to where brands stand on issues.

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If the success of Nike’s Just Do It anniversary campaign didn’t drive it home, Edelman released a study this week underscoring just how important it is for brands to take a position on social issues.

The agency’s research covered eight markets; Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. The firm conducted an online survey of 8,000 people, 1,000 in each country, from July 10-20 and asked about belief-driven buying and attitudes toward brands, relationships with 48 brands, and reactions to two communications from 16 brands.

Here are five takeaways from the research.

  1. After Nike’s success, few doubt that it’s important for brands to take a position. Edelman’s research backs up that gut feeling. In 2017, of the belief-driven buyers surveyed, 67% said they bought a brand for the first time because of its stand, and 65% said they avoid brands with no positions. Yet if this is a wave, it hasn’t crested. This year, 64% of the people surveyed described themselves in some way as a belief-driven consumer, compared with 51% in 2017.

  2. The trend is growing internationally, as well. In Japan, 60% of the surveyed described themselves as belief buyers, up 21 points from 2017. The U.K. saw a 20-point jump year-over-year, with 57% in 2018 describing themselves as belief buyers. China saw the smallest increase. In 2017, 73% of those surveyed were already belief buyers. This year, the number is 78%.

  • It’s almost trope that younger consumers care more about issues when shopping, but increasingly older consumers are taking social issues into account. In 2017, 53% of people aged 35 to 54 cared about a brand’s stand. This year, 67% did, a 14-point increase. In 2017, 38% of consumers 55 and older said they cared about a brand’s social stands. This year, 56% said it was important.

  • People are also looking to brands, instead of government, when it comes to social issues. Some 46% of those surveyed think brands have better ideas than government, and 53% said brands are able to do more than government to solve social ills.

  • People also feel that it’s easier to convince brands to address an issue than it is to convince the government, though the number varies greatly by country. In Japan, 37% feel it’s easier get brands to address social problems, while in the U.K. and the U.S. 50% and 57%, respectively, thought so. In Brazil, 62% of those surveyed thought brands would be more responsive than government and in India, 72% did.

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