How Can Brands Better Reflect Consumer Values?

August 26, 2020

GWI Relationships with Brands Aug2020While it’s true that there are certain groups of Americans who feel vastly underrepresented in advertising, it appears advertisers are not doing an adequate job of representing US consumers as a whole. All in all only about 1 in 10 (9%) of the almost 21,000 Americans surveyed by GlobalWebIndex believe they are represented in the advertising they see. Here’s more of what the data shows.

The Disgruntlement of Consumers

The survey results indicate that fewer than one-quarter of consumers feel a connection or relationship with their favorite brands. The generation that feels most connected with their favorite brands is Gen Z (23%) followed by Millennials (21%). As consumers get older, the proportion who feel connected to the brands they love tapers off even more. Only 18% of Gen X, 14% of Boomers and 11% of Silents feel this connection.

The same trend can be seen when it comes to brands reflecting the values of consumers. About one-fifth of Gen Z (21%) and Millennials (20%) say that the brands they buy mirror their values, while fewer Gen X (18%), Boomers (15%) and Silents (15%) are able to say the same.

The disconnect between brands and consumers varies by demographic group and income. Research from 2019 found that, in recent years, advertisers have actually decreased their spending designed to reach this demographic. In this research, some 42% of Black Americans from low-income households say they distrust big brands and corporations, compared to 31% of those from high-income households.

Even so, a relatively small share of Black American Gen Z (26%), Millennials (32%), Gen X (33%) and Boomers (33%) say they prefer ads that reflect their culture. Similarly, one-third or fewer Gen Z (33%), Millennials (29%), Gen X (22%) and Boomers (27%) agree that they prefer brands that feature celebrities who look like them. This may be due to research from Think with Google indicating that two-thirds of African-Americans surveyed feel that their ethnic identity is often portrayed stereotypically. Further results suggest that Black Americans are inclined to buy from a brand whose ads positively reflect their race or ethnicity.

Personal Values and What Consumers Want

Something advertisers should consider is what American consumers value and what they want from brands. The survey shows that things important to consumers include being respected (49%), supporting good causes (44%), making a difference (44%) and equal rights (42%) as well as staying fit (42%), making money (42%) and physical appearance (38%). As the researchers note, “altruistic goals are becoming as important as personal ones.”

In response to these values, consumers now want brands to be purpose-driven, with those surveyed saying they want brands to be socially responsible (42%), improve consumers’ day-to-day life (41%) and listen to feedback (39%). They also want brands to reduce their environmental impact (36%), contribute to the local community (34%) and make consumers feel valued (34%).

Loyalty Can Be Obtained

For the most part, when consumers find a brand that reflects their values and aligns with what they now expect from brands, they are more likely to be loyal to those brands. About half (52%) of White Americans surveyed say that once they find a brand, they like to stay loyal to it. To a lesser extent so do Black Americans (42%), Asian-Americans (41%) and Hispanic Americans (42%). That said, loyalty is perhaps harder to obtain for younger men of color, as only 23% of male, Black, Gen Z report that they like to stay loyal to a brand once they find it.

About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 20,992 US consumers ages 16+.

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