Trustenomics: Brands as community

Consumers are existing in a climate of fear and worry. This is being driven by uncertainty around Brexit, the turbulent Trump administration, combined with rising policies of nationalism amid the emerging impacts of climate change.

Adding in the subjective gaze of ‘fake news’ and messaging distorted via social media, trust in Governmental bodies continues to wane. Consumers don’t know who or what to trust.

Seeking security, increasingly consumers are looking to place that trust in brands that stand up for them, and their values.

This stems from not only a moral imperative, but a financial one, too – as consumers begin to reject brands that aren’t in line with their values. While increasingly the narrative around trust has stemmed from a sense of brand-purpose, with retailers and brands advocating on behalf of consumers. Key examples of this are the way that outdoor brands like Patagonia and REI have campaigned to protect outdoor spaces like national parks.

But evolving expectations will require these strategies to extend beyond philanthropic efforts to change what they offer to create a sense of stability in an increasingly uncertain landscape.

Cape Town’s drought saw many businesses redevelop their products and manufacturing processes to cope, and to help consumers maintain some level of normalcy during the crisis. Coca-Cola reduced the amount of water used in the production of its soft drinks by 30%. While Unilever redeveloped many of its products, including dry shampoo and waterless surface cleaners, so that they could be used with less or no water.

The past year has seen leading brands begin to go the extra mile in order to foster trust with their consumer as seen in this video.

As we approach 2019, this consumer need is only going to become more apparent. With no immediate signs of political resolutions or re-established stability, brands should consider their role in the community in order to keep up.

To understand the six consumer drivers that are changing the pace of retail, download WGSN’s latest white paper, The High Velocity Consumer.


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