Byravee Iyer
Sep 9, 2015

Dear brands, consumers just aren't that into you: JWT & TNS

ASIA-PACIFIC - Consumers across Asia-Pacific are hesitant, or even suspicious, about engaging with brands online, and resent doing anything that appears to benefit the brand more than it benefits them, according to a new study by J.Walter Thompson and TNS.

Morris (left) and Leathwood
Morris (left) and Leathwood

The findings were based on a study of online behaviour and attitudes of 5,600 people across seven countries in the region including Singapore, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

Indeed, the more brands ask of consumers, the less interested they are in participating. Just over half of the respondents say they are interested in consuming brand content, but only three in 10 are open to interacting with brands online. And just 8 per cent have any interest in creating content for brands. This is among people who are already considering a purchase. The interest level is far lower among people who aren’t looking to buy.

Fifty-eight per cent said they are more likely to engage with brands online only if "it’s really easy and asks nothing of me", and 48 per cent say they’d prefer it if brands would just entertain them rather than ask them to do something. Worse, many consumers actually resent being asked to participate: one in three feel like they “are doing the work for the brand” when they are asked to participate in online marketing campaigns. Remarketing drives further avoidance.

Speaking at Spikes Asia, Angela Morris, executive planning director at JWT Australia said consumers are not leaning forward. “So what’s going on here? Is it us or them? Have we got it right? We can do better.”

Alistair Leathwood, executive director for TNS, found that there is an inverse correlation between the amount of effort brands ask for and the interest in performing the desired task. “If you make entertaining, interesting content, it’s much easier to get them to like it,” he added.

Leathwood isn’t suggesting brands shouldn’t interact, but that they should think of doing it on the consumers’ terms. Consumers are keen to interact while browsing, shopping and seeking customer service.

Morris feels participation has distracted brands from the real goal. She recommends brands use it to drive brand preference and talk to people who aren’t interested in their brand. She picked Kelloggs Nutri-grain as an example of this. For its relaunch, the brand created three compelling videos around its ‘unstoppable’ positioning, which resulted in an incremental sales lift and stronger brand equity.

“Stop assuming interest in participation but earn the interest with creatively driven content," Morris said. "Creativity has proven to get engagements and overcome inertia."

In conclusion, Morris and Leathwood urged brands to:

  • Create content for people, not brands.
  • Remember content without strategy is not marketing. Have a strong reason for doing what you do.
  • Don't ask things of your consumer, but give back instead. Understand their pain points and delights.
  • Be true to brand ideas: They are a way of creating meaning over and above product/service benefits.

Click here for the full study.


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