brandshare™ 2013

brandshare™ is Edelman’s largest-ever consumer marketing study and an exploration of the evolving relationship between people and brands.

It’s accepted wisdom that marketers no longer solely own their brands. Social media, smart phones and other technologies have introduced a new dynamic where people and marketers share ownership of brands. While marketers implicitly believe there’s value in this shared relationship, there's never been proof of its value or an exploration of the full breadth of brand sharing.

We surveyed 11,000 people in eight countries to find out:

  • What does it mean for a brand to really share?
  • Do people want brands to share?
  • Is there business value in sharing a brand?

We learned it pays to share.

Ninety percent of people want brands to share. On average, only 10 percent of people think brands do it well. It’s important that brands share, as our study proves a correlation between a shared brand and people’s intent to purchase, use and recommend a brand’s product.

We also discovered that while all sharing is valuable, some types of sharing are more powerful than others.

brandshare offers three new ways for brand marketers to capitalize on people’s desire for a shared relationship:

1. Change the marketing communications ethos
Involve people at every stage of the product development and marketing cycle.

2. Harmonize the narrative
Create a singular brand story that focuses on people’s needs and interests, not just the brands’.

3. Integrate sharing across all channels
Use existing marketing channels to deliver more meaningful engagement.

If brands start acting like partners, not owners, they experience the business value of sharing.

Amid a sea of new expectations, technologies and channels, brandshare offers marketers the research-validated insights needed to prioritize brand activities, better engage with people and create business value.

A shared brand puts people at the center of everything it does. It listens to what people have to say, responds thoughtfully to feedback and ideas, involves people in every step of the marketing process and is open and honest about how its products are made, where they come from and how they perform.

Three mandates for creating a shared brand:

1. Change the marketing communications ethos
Migrate from a linear strategy, where most of the brand development action happens behind real or figurative “closed doors” until perfected and then is shared with people. Instead, brands should capitalize on people’s interest in sharing and involve people at every stage of the marketing and development process.

2. Harmonize the narrative
Brand marketing and corporate communications teams should collaborate to craft a singular brand story, working together to share stories based on the needs and interests of people. Companies do a great job of communicating their values and history to a broad range of stakeholders. Unfortunately, too often “consumers” are not among them.

3. Integrate sharing across all channels
Social and experiential channels become more valuable when they incorporate the types of sharing people want. Marketers should redesign existing channels and properties to incorporate higher-value sharing. Communities should be reconfigured to actively listen and respond to people’s questions, ideas and needs. These communities should then be used to invite more participation in the development and design of products. Brands should reconsider experiences to demonstrate their interest in and willingness to help achieve shared goals or showcase shared values

No matter who you are or where you live, sharing by brands is valuable. There are, however, some differences across countries and age groups that are critical to building effective sharing programs in harmony with local expectations.

Developing vs. developed markets:
People in developing markets are remarkably enthusiastic about and assign great importance to sharing. But, the actual business value derived from brandshare behaviors is nearly equal across developing and developed markets. This is particularly true for four out of the six dimensions of sharing: history, product, values and goals.

Sharing is not just for Millennials:
People of all ages value sharing, want brands to engage more meaningfully and reward brands that share effectively. The correlation to a business outcome for shared products, experiences and goals are almost identical across all generations. But there are differences too. Millennials are the most likely to want brands to share product performance information, whereas people ages 45+ have the highest unmet desire for open and transparent information about sourcing.

Not all types of sharing are equal. Generally speaking, more substantive and meaningful types of sharing correlate more strongly to people’s intent to purchase, use and recommend a brand’s product.

The six dimensions of sharing:

1. Shared dialog
Do we want to talk to brands? As long as brands act on what they hear.
People are ready to offer suggestions, voice opinions and ask questions. To enable this, brands must listen and respond thoughtfully to what they hear. Brands often believe they are having a shared dialog; people often disagree. Shared dialog is the entry point to a shared relationship.

2. Shared experience
Can we do things together? If brands make every occasion meaningful.
People enjoy experiences beyond just using a product, and like being connected through real life and online activities. People in developing markets are more eager for and place a higher value on shared experiences. In developed markets, where brand experiences are no longer inherently novel, brands must recast experiences to be more about people’s interests than their own.

3. Shared goals
Do we want to achieve the same things? Just lend me your ear and a ladder.
People want brands to help them reach their goals. But goals are personal, and people would rather be asked what they need before being told how to get there. This is especially true in product categories where people aren’t always confident in their knowledge, such as financial services and technology.

4. Shared values
Do we believe in the same things? We do when brands stand up for what they stand for.
People reward brands that openly share their values. Nearly 50 percent surveyed want more transparency about sourcing, and more than 40 percent want to see more local community giving. Many brands have sophisticated values initiatives in place, but too often people aren’t seeing them.

5. Shared product
Can we create together? If brands give, they’ll get.
One of the greatest opportunities for brands lies in their willingness to let consumers see behind the curtain and participate in the product development process – we found that nine out of 10 people want to be involved. People also want complete transparency about product performance and want brands to share information about how they compare against their competitors.

 6. Shared history
Do we know your story? Where brands come from shapes where they’re going.
A brand’s history is secretly seductive. It personalizes and humanizes a brand. People don’t explicitly demand that brands share their history, but a brand heritage is one of the most powerful predictors of people’s intent to purchase or recommend a brand.

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