Research Insight

A Tale of Two Tribes



The “Inversion of Influence” uncovered in the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer is an alarming global trend for marketers.

In this year’s study, we begin to explore the implications for marketers in a world where the least trusting segment of the population is the most influential when it comes to purchase decisions.

What we found in the 2016 results is that we now have two distinct tribes that see the world very differently. Although the concept of Consumer Tribes is not new, we now know that there is a distinct difference in how income and equality drive attitudes towards trust. This is making the divide between the two key tribes, the informed public and the mass population, larger than ever before.

The mass population, the core consumer segment for most marketers, is by far the least trusting. The gap revealed between the mass population and the informed public, when it comes to trust in the four institutions (government, business, media and NGOs), has never been larger. Across all markets and categories, our data shows that it is this group that is consistently the least trusting.

We now know that the broader population is speaking to itself, more than ever before. These consumers now hold the power when it comes to sharing and recommending brands and influencing purchases. We have seen the rise of influence that a “person like myself” has as a source of trusted information for the past few years, and we predict that it will not be long before we see this become THE most trusted source among the general population.

The consumer journey has completely changed. Consumers connect in different ways and as a result, today brands are vulnerable. People are buying products they have never heard of before based on recommendations and reviews they see online and across their social channels.

Now more than ever, marketers need to find new ways to earn attention and to earn the right to be a part of conversations online and offline.

Brands that exhibit Earned Brand behaviours are brands that are best placed to understand the new customer journey and to be a part of that journey. They reassure consumers just as much as they inspire them.

Successful marketers understand how to navigate the new media ecosystem. Modern brand storytelling needs stories that are worth telling, that people want to share and that then become narratives that live-on across multiple channels. Storytellers also need to understand how to work with Video Influencers, and to be brave enough to give up control of these stories to earn attention and trust.

Trust is at the heart of the new customer journey.

Michelle Hutton, global practice chair, Consumer Marketing.

Image by Getty.
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