Several years ago I spent 3 years working for a marketing insight business in Sydney. We worked on some major brands during this time and the quality of work taught me a huge amount about market research and interpretation as I was lucky to work with some amazingly talented people at one of those sweet spots in an agency where talent and growth multiply.
Earlier this year I went back to Sydney for the first time in 13 years and met up with a few of my former colleagues for a ‘few cold ones’ as you do. Naturally we talked a bit about the old times and how the economy had fared by comparison to the UK.
Anyone with experience of Australia will know that where the rest of the world went into GFC meltdown from 2009, Australia managed comparatively to avoid the seismic shifts in economic fortune – possibly by selling off vast tracts of land to Chinese mining and agro-industry. What this has left them with is a fear that with a forecast slow down in the Chinese Economy there will be the potential for a more recession focused Australian economy.
I went on to discuss how in the UK, The Buzzz had noted a breakdown in the trust shown by consumers to banks, politicians, media, utility businesses and now even supermarkets, following the horsemeat scandal and Tesco’s demise and accounting flaws. Surprisingly this very apparent lack of trust really resonated with the guys because there was seen to be a similar cynical backlash by the Aussie consumer too. Politics have always been hard to fathom in Australia but most recently the same degree of mistrust had been shown in a series of dramas involving expenses (that old chestnut), positions taken over immigration, the environment and sexual abuse cases involving the clergy. Australians are pretty adept at bringing anyone or any brand down to size, should they get too successful and not show respect and gratitude to those who had put them in that position – it was often referred to as tall poppy syndrome.
A lack of trust may seem relatively trivial compared to other issues you have to think about as a brand marketeer or CEO until you place it in the context we have in the UK, where there is a general mistrust that has been building over the last 5-6 years. Perhaps what we are witnessing in 2016 is that brands which are trusted more, are now simply extracting more value from the levels of consumer trust they have developed, simply because they have it, or it is strengthening, while trust for other brands is diminishing.
Our belief is that trust as an output of brand or company performance has become a little neglected and forgotten as other measures appear to be more relevant, more widely adopted or even just more sexy! Net Promoter Scores is an example of something which came to be widely adopted because it was simple to understand and had some good press coverage. Companies now embrace CSR and ethics as a much broader focus than it once had; customer experience is the new pin up performance measure; and brand trackers still religiously churn out data on awareness and image attributes which show remarkably small change for such a big investment!
At The Buzzz we have therefore been investing a lot of time in thinking around the whole issue of trust, not to add another measurement or metric into the mix but to provide clarity around what a brand needs to achieve to maximise an economic return. Similarly if we know what is driving trust in your brand currently and compare this to other brands in your market or category we can deliver a longer term strategy which is more cohesive as it is focused on building trust, something with acknowledged longer term value, particularly in times where crisis and catastrophe are just around the corner for any brand and can strike with alarming speed.