For customers to be satisfied with brands, the marketing message needs to align with the value of the product and service itself, research has shown. The trouble is, many people – especially those prized Millennials – feel that brands today rarely live up to the promises they make, according to a study [download page] from Jack Morton.

Millennials Are the Most Skeptical

The research aimed to come up with a Brand Experience Index, and as part of that effort, asked 6,000 consumers in the US, UK and China about their attitudes and interactions with brands.

The results indicate that brands need to make sure that the experiences and products/services they deliver match the promises made by their marketing. That’s because close to half of respondents agreed that when a brand doesn’t live up to its promises, they can’t trust it and won’t buy it anymore.

In this case, it was actually Boomers who were the most unforgiving, with 53% willing to abandon a brand that doesn’t live up to its promises, versus 42% of Millennials.

Still, younger adults are skeptical. More than one-third (36%) of Millennials agreed that when a brand doesn’t live up to its promises, it wants them to believe it’s something that it’s not. That figure fell to fewer than one-quarter (23%) of Boomers.

Moreover, younger adults are the most apt to feel that brands are failing. While 52% of respondents across the 3 countries agreed that brands today rarely live up to the promises they make, that figure was highest among Millennials (52%) and lowest among Boomers (47%).

That same pattern was true across countries:

  • In the US, 49% of Millennials feel that brands rarely live up to their promises, versus 42% of Boomers;
  • In the UK, it’s 55% of youth versus 49% of older adults; and
  • In China, people are most skeptical, with 60% of Millennials and 50% of Boomers feeling that brands rarely deliver.

These opinions aren’t forged in an environment of complacence either, as 8 in 10 adults surveyed across the 3 countries reported caring about how brands behave towards customers, employees and their communities.

Employee Experiences More Critical Than Social Content in the US

The experiences provided by some touch points matter more than others, and these largely vary depending on industry and to some extent, country.

Within the US, respondents rated the in-store experience the most important for CPG, Beverages, Consumer Tech and Quick Service Restaurants (QSR). The web and mobile experience is most important for Entertainment, Tech and Payments, while employees matter most for Travel and Retail Banks.

Interestingly, for US respondents, employees were among the top-3 most important experiences in each of the 10 industries tracked. By contrast, social content was only in the top-3 in two industries: Tech (#2) and Entertainment (#3).

Social content proves more important in China, though. It’s the most important aspect of the experience for Chinese consumers when considering the Entertainment, Tech, Travel and Retail Bank industries.

Those brands able to provide consistently high experiences across touch points are likely to separate themselves from the competition: fewer than 1 in 4 respondents across the surveyed countries feel that the brands they interact with deliver experiences that are significantly better than their competitors.

The full study is available for download here.

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