Brands have probably kidded themselves in the past that they were selected because they had the best products and services but, chances are that convenience and price were the reason they were chosen rather than a feeling of unbridled loyalty. The digital age has made it very convenient to shop around online and in the high street the traditional supermarkets are being given a run for their money by new entrants competing heavily on price.
The odd thing about today's Meaningful Brands UK Report 2015, from Havas Media is that it goes on to attribute consumer apathy to people feeling that brands should be doing more to serve their wider communities. In fact, 85% of respondents noted this as the key area where brands should be doing more yet only 3% of brands are doing so. The five brands deemed to improve customers' lives the most were, not unsurprisingly, Google, Amazon, PayPal, Visa and Samsung.
When it comes down to the nitty gritty, nearly half of us believe that excellent services and great products are the most important brand expectation, whereas just over a quarter of us believe it to be brands contributing to collective well being.
That's right -- we have the classic "what's in it for me" versus the "I hope they send money to orphaned monkeys" question.
At least this research shows that despite what people will claim, the right product and level of service are twice as important as a brand being seen to be a good corporate citizen.
I mean, just look at that top five. First of all, I don't know their corporate citizen records in detail. However, let's deal in facts. The top two there are Google and Amazon, and each is either being investigated, or threatened with an investigation, for its tax avoidance measures in Europe and Amazon has come under severe criticism for the treatment of its staff. That's not even to mention privacy or copyright, which have both caught the eye of EU regulators looking to give Google a punch on the nose. In fact, if you said to the average Briton which companies personify corporate greed over doing the right thing, Google and Amazon would be top of the list, I would imagine. Yet here they are as the honourable exception that are seen as making people's lives easier.
So there we have it in a nutshell. The brands that make it easy for us to find stuff, get the best price and pay for it (on a fancy mobile, thank you Samsung) are the names we deem the most relevant to our lives.
Sure, there is something to be said about the importance we attribute to brands that we feel act responsibly -- but where is Waitrose or the Co-Op in that list?
The truth is that we all talk about the importance of good deeds but then search on the most convenient Web site, find goods on a "one-click" service and pay for them in the most convenient way regardless of what those brands may or may not do in their corporate citizen programmes.
We're fickle and we're also two-faced. We want brands to do the right thing, just as long as it coincides with making our lives easier and cheaper.