In 2018, it's not enough to be liked by consumers (or to even have some affinity with them); brands have to be loved.
To that end, Verizon subsidiary Oath (which is the umbrella for Verizon-owned media properties, such as AOL, Yahoo! and Huffpost ) released its first Brand Love Index, a research study revealing the key factors that drive consumers to love brands. Culling data from more than 150,000 consumers in 13 countries, the company evaluated six drivers (such as how well brands exceed needs, set trends, share values, build trust, elevate experiences and respect consumers) to drive deeper consumer connections.
“The principles of brand relationships are fairly evergreen,” John DeVine, chief revenue officer for Oath, tells Marketing Daily. “However, there is a non-linear relationship between consumers and brand and [with Brand Love], you hit a place where that relationship really takes off.”
DeVine admits some of the factors should be table stakes for brands. But even in those cases, there are areas that can be mined for improvement. For instance, while every brand should “outperform and overdeliver,” brands that had at least one mobile touchpoint with consumers had higher affinity and better ad response. Consumers also place a high value on trust, which drives 20% of brand love globally.
Consumers also want their most-trusted brands to be innovative. According to the research, the ability to set trends — regardless of industry — drives 18% of brand love globally. Consumers are also willing to go out of their way for brands that innovate in order to elevate experiences.
Perhaps the most surprising driver is that consumers want to associate with brands that share their values. That doesn’t necessarily mean political values, however; 62% of U.S. consumers want brands they love to publicly support equality and diversity, but only 25% want them to be political.
Not all of the drivers, however, are blanket truths across the board. GenXers and Baby Boomers place a higher value on trust than millennials (who put more weight into innovation and values). Knowing those factors, however, can help build love with wider demographics of consumers, DeVine says.
“It’s interesting to see how drivers shift in terms of different consumer groups,” he says. “There is a balance of innovation and setting
The good news is, loved brands that accidentally shift that balance too far will likely see consumer forgiveness.
“Consumers are willing to give the brand some credit, especially if they are meeting fundamental needs,” DeVine says. “There’s no answer that can satisfy all advertisers everywhere. But there’s a wide berth, and while the waters may be rocky, there’s more than rock underneath them, and you can back off of them easily.”