Brands Can Do Better Connecting With Consumers

For all of the increased opportunities to reach consumers available these days, marketers are not doing a particularly good job of connecting with them. 

In the first-of-its kind Brand Relationship Index measurement, Edelman found the average consumer-brand relationship score reaches just 38 on a 100-point scale. Based on a study of 13,000 consumers in 13 countries, the index underscores that marketers have a huge opportunity to build deeper relationships with their consumers. 

“At a time when there’s so much disruption in marketing, the relationship you have with consumers becomes more and more important,” Tonia Ries, executive director at Edelman Square, tells Marketing Daily. “[Brands] are not yet realizing how far consumers are willing to go with them.”



The study outlines five different stages of the consumer-brand relationship, from “Interested” (a vague awareness of a brand) to “Committed” (in which consumers will advocate and defend a brand). That commitment has an effect on the bottom line: consumers in deeper brand relationships indicate they’re more likely to pay a premium for a product, recommend the brand through social media and defend it against criticism. 

“There’s a clear correlation between the level of commitment and the extent to which your consumers are going to buy products,” Ries says.

Getting to those advanced stages, however, requires a deeper level of connection, relying less on paid media (which is useful in the early stages) to more owned and peer media.

It also requires a greater sense of purpose with regard to communications. On Edelman’s Brand Relationship Index, most brands had difficulty acting with purpose, telling memorable stories and listening openly/responding selectively. Many in the survey also felt the brand could do more to solve societal ills than government, meaning there’s high expectations to reach consumers with strategies that involve collaboration, participation, shared values and actions, Ries says.

“It’s not just about adjusting the media mix as the relationship deepens. It’s about thinking about it more,” she says, noting that REI’s Grand Prix-winning #OptOutside anti-black Friday effort was a good example. “It has to go beyond who you are and what you stand for to what you can do in that space.”

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