Consumers worldwide would not care if almost three-quarters of all brands disappeared, but people in emerging markets tend to look upon brands in a slightly more favourable light, according to Havas Group’s 2017 Meaningful Brands report.
The study, which examines the link between brand performance and quality of life or wellbeing, found that while 75 percent of consumers expect brands to make a greater contribution to their wellbeing, just 40 percent believe they are doing so.
Havas found that internet brands have overtaken technology brands this year as the most meaningful, with Google, PayPal and WhatsApp in the top positions. The study analysed responses from 33 countries, surveying 300,000 people and 1,500 brands.
Focusing on Asia-Pacific, the rise of internet brands is unsurprising, according to Josh Gallagher, APAC chief strategy officer at Havas Media.
“Brands like Google, Facebook and others, especially some in certain Asian markets, are seen as being able to create better personal connections with people,” he told Campaign Asia-Pacific.
“Some internet-technology brands like Uber and Airbnb are suffering more, not from the technology side, but from personal connections.”
Gallagher added that APAC consumers would be similarly unaffected by a majority of brands vanishing, although there is disparity between more advanced and emerging markets in the region.
“There is definitely a higher trust of brands in emerging markets,” he said. "People look to brands to help them with personal benefits, whether, say, social or emotional. But in advanced markets consumers tend to be more sceptical about brands helping you out.”
The key, Gallagher said, is understanding content, which remains a big issue globally and across APAC. The study found that Japanese consumers felt 77 percent of brand content was not meaningful, with Hong Kong (73 percent) and Singapore (72 percent) also coming in high.
In developing markets like India (53 percent) and Indonesia (56 percent), there is greater trust in brand content, but consumers still find more than half of it to be meaningless.
“We know that content drives personal benefit, and if we can get personal benefit to go up, we know that it increases share of wallet,” Gallagher said. “Whether people are willing to pay a premium for a brand, those kinds of elements increase as you get personal benefits and content right.”
That said, Gallagher stressed that producing the right content doesn’t mean “getting carried away”, something that brands are not always aware of.
“It’s not necessarily that you need to create a viral success or partner with someone to be an entertaining brand—consumers don’t always expect that from everyone,” he said. “It’s not just about inspiring people or being super-entertaining. People who purchase and re-purchase products want to be rewarded, so they want rewarding, informative content.”
The top 10 most meaningful brands globally: