Edelman has just published a companion piece to our long-established Trust Barometer. It is called brandshare. Its central thesis is that brands need to migrate from a linear, controlled model to an inclusive sharing model. The research shows that those brands that share most with their communities have higher Net Promoter Scores (recommend), higher purchase intent and higher likelihood to try. Those are three pretty strong reasons to change your marketing ethos.
Jen Cohan, chair of Edelman’s Consumer Marketing practice, has been working on this idea of sharing for the past six months. The key questions to answer were the business value of sharing, the kinds of sharing people expect from brands and specific feedback on more than 200 brands as to their level of sharing. The study of 11,000 people in eight countries (U.S., Canada, France, Germany, UK, Brazil, China, India) this summer by Edelman Berland found the following:
- Ninety percent of people across the eight markets want marketers to more effectively share their brands but only 10 percent believe that any brand does it well
- Ninety-one percent of people want to be involved in the design and development process
- Ninety percent of people want complete transparency on product performance, how a product is made and how it performs versus competitors
- Ninety-one percent of people want brands to enable their personal goals
- Ninety-two percent of people want to do business with companies that share their beliefs
These five points apply equally to developed and developing markets.
Cohan and the Edelman Berland team have come up with six dimensions of sharing: Shared Dialog; Shared Experiences; Shared Goals; Shared Values; Shared Products; Shared History. The most business value comes from Shared Product and Shared Values, while Shared Goals, Shared Experiences, Shared History and Shared Dialog are less in demand. It is important to note that the more sharing behaviors a brand adopts, the better the business outcome.
There are important gaps between expectation and delivery on these dimensions of sharing. When you compare people’s expectations (how important they believe it is for a brand to demonstrate a specific behavior) to perceived performance, we find the biggest gaps in areas of Shared Values, Shared Goals and Shared Products. Specifically, brands must be more open and transparent on sourcing, engage with people to understand their needs and invite people into the product development process. Brands like Adobe* have had tremendous success applying these principles to how they operate, engage and deliver to their stakeholders.
There are big differences among countries in expectations of sharing. For example, Brazil and India have significantly higher importance ratings for each of the six clusters than other markets and France has the lowest importance scores. However, it is important to note, the impact of these behaviors on likelihood to recommend, purchase or try is significant and similar across all markets (put differently, while France might not deem a brand sharing its history as important, it still has a significant correlation to driving purchase intent).
This is our first time doing this study and we believe we are on to something. Given the new tools, elevated expectations and the fact that people want relationships with the brands they buy, maybe it’s time to try and do things differently.
Richard Edelman is president and CEO.