For Brands, Silence Is No Longer Golden

As part of a 2021 marketing trends report, dentsu Americas Chief Strategy Officer Dirk Herbert offers some insights into changing consumer expectations of brands and how marketers need to better align with those new expectations.

Herbert points to company research that shows that 46% of consumers say they are paying more attention now versus pre-COVID to what brands are doing to actively support individuals, communities and employees during the pandemic.

Also, 57% feel that brands have a responsibility to use their influence to stand up for social issues, “speaking to the clear imperative for marketers to connect profit to purpose.”

But he notes a perception gap between consumers and brand leaders on the subject. A recent PwC study shows that while 56% of C-suite leaders feel their company has a broader purpose beyond profit, only 24% of consumers agreed.  Herbert’s conclusion: “This points to a need for marketers to lead the charge on more closely intertwining brand, purpose and customer experience.”



Herbert also notes consumers appear to be more focused now on what he calls “non-marketing” brand elements like how employees are treated and the integrity of supply chains.

And staying silent on important social issues to avoid controversy is increasingly a risky stance.

In one denstu survey, 50% of consumers said that when a brand stayed silent on an important issue, they either switched to a new brand, told others to boycott the brand, posted about the brand’s silence online or contacted the brand directly to encourage them to speak up.

Bottom line, says Herbert, brands have to espouse what they believe in and “embrace the fact that a brand – like a person – cannot be all things to all people.”

Herbert also referenced a comprehensive CMO survey dentsu conducted earlier this year that found CMO’s who feel “better prepared” for the future are “actively re-imagining the consumer experience.” And purpose-driven initiatives are likely to be at the core of those experience transformation efforts.


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