Sophie Chen
Oct 18, 2013

Consumers in China, India want more sharing by brands: Edelman

HONG KONG – A majority of people in China (91 per cent) and India (82 per cent) want brands to be more open and sharing, but about 75 per cent think brands are doing it wrong, according to a new Edelman consumer study.

Brands need to be more open in China and India
Brands need to be more open in China and India

On average, only 20 and 25 per cent of people in China and India, respectively, think any given brand shares itself well.

The study, called "brandshare", is based on a survey conducted in the month up to 12 July with 11,000 consumers in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Brazil, India and China. The research evaluated approximately 212 local and multinational brands.

By measuring six dimensions of sharing, including dialogue, experience, goals, values, product and history, the study found that sharing is perceived as more important and in higher demand in China and India than the other countries.

“In developing countries, such as China and India, engagement marketing has started with increasing use of technology, which enables consumers to gain more access to tools, such as mobile and social media,” Jennifer Cohan, global chair of consumer marketing at Edelman, told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “The process of marketing with consumers, instead of marketing to, is jumping ahead in developing countries.”

She pointed out that the disconnect between brands and consumers in China and India arises because brands are still having a one-way conversation, even through social media.

Sharing product and history are the most important brand behaviours in both China and India, which will lead to more recommendations. 

Here are some highlights of finding from the six dimensions examined in the report:

Shared product

Sharing related to products is considered as one of the most significant factors impacting purchase decision, with 92 per cent of respondents in China and 83 per cent in India saying they want to be involved in the design and development process.

People in China (91 per cent) and India (82 per cent) also want complete openness about product performance—to know how products are made and how they should perform against competitors.

The findings suggest that brands can enable people to personalise products, or invite them to test products, collaborate on design and provide feedback.

Citing brands in the FMCG and food-and-beverage industries as examples, Cohan said that companies can invite consumers to sample new flavours or choose their favourite package.

Shared values

This is most demanded factor, with 93 per cent in China and 83 per cent in India willing to do business with brands that share their beliefs.

Also, half of the respondents in China want brands to be more transparent about how products are sourced and made. However, only a quarter demand the same in India.

Shared history

The study found that an open brand heritage is the most accurate indicator of people’s intent to purchase or recommend a brand in China and India.

“In emerging markets like China and India, brand experiences hasn’t existed that long,” Cohan explained. “So this is when brand history kicks in and helps engagement.”

Shared goals

Most people surveyed in China (91 per cent) and India (82 per cent) want brands to help them reach personal goals. The study found this happens more in product categories where people lack confidence in their knowledge and expertise, such as financial services, technology and apparel.

The study suggested that brands should ask people about their needs and aspirations first, instead of advising how to achieve them.

Shared experience

This is highly relevant in China and India with 91 and 82 per cent of respondents, respectively, wanting shared experiences with brands. The study points out the key to successfully sharing a brand experience with consumers is to make sure the experience is as much about people’s interests as it is about the brand’s products.

Shared dialogue

Forty-one per cent of people aged between 30 and 64 in China want brands to do a better job listening and responding thoughtfully to feedback. People in India seem to be more satisfied with the level of dialogue, with 23 per cent on average looking for more meaningful conversations with brands.

“In India, people expect brands to interact on a daily basis,” said Cornelia Kunze, vice chairman of Edelman APACMEA. “However, it’s the quality of engagement that matters most, rather than quantity.”

“Consumers are seeking a deeper dialogue and an exclusive conversation,” Cohan added. “Brands should listen to and understand them, act authentically and share stories.”

Overall, Alan VanderMolen, president and CEO of global practices at Edelman and vice chairman at DJE Holdings, suggested that brands must focus on a multidisciplinary marketing approach.

“Marketers must evolve from a traditional linear model of focus groups that ends with the consumer to one that involves people at every stage,” he said. “Brands must also synchronise their brand marketing and corporate communications narrative into one cohesive message, while redesigning current engagement channels to incorporate higher-value sharing.”

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