Whiplash Team, 15th October 2021

The challenge for brands in the post-pandemic world

In Spain, the performance of brands during the pandemic, far from improving their perception by users, has contributed to its deterioration. The report “Brand Disappointment: The challenge of brands in a post-pandemic world”, prepared by Collaborabrands over the last year and a half, reveals that brands are in a process of continuous burnout.

On a global scale, consumers are disappointed in brands. They do not trust them and are suspicious of their promises to contribute to a better world. It is something that has been happening for years and that, as time goes by, it only increases.

In Spain, the situation is no different. The report “Brand Disappointment: The challenge of brands in a post-pandemic world“, prepared by Collaborabrands, confirms this by revealing that there is a dramatic gap between the expectations that consumers have of brands and their perception of how they are really contributing to society. In conclusion, companies and their brands are in a situation where they are irrelevant to their users, which implies that the client has no attachment to them, and the brands could disappear tomorrow without affecting them in the least. The client would simply replace them with another option available on the market.

The results of this report are similar to those of other research, such as the latest Meaningful Brands 2021 report, by Havas Creative Group, which concludes that we are entering an era of cynicism towards brands and that consumers, on a global scale, feel mistrust towards them. The study, based on surveys on more than 395,000 people around the world, reveals that 71% of respondents have little faith in brands and that 75% of these could disappear tomorrow and consumers would replace them with others quickly without any problem.

In the Spanish case, the Collaborabrands report points out that the erosion of consumer confidence in brands is a growing trend. In June 2020, the confidence indicator was at 41%. However, between September 2020 and September 2021, it has fallen 9 percentage points, and is now at 32%. In other words, during the pandemic, in Spain, 2.74 million people have lost trust in brands. If this trend continues, by April 2022 the confidence index in companies would be 30%.

Throughout the year and a half that the investigation lasted –between March 2020 and September 2021– 2,800 Spaniards were surveyed, and seven review rounds have been carried out. The sectors analysed were banking, food, beverages, energy, automotive and telecommunications. In addition, the report has used the Future Thinking methodology both to study the evolution of the perception of brands among consumers, and to project different scenarios, and establish actions and strategies for companies to get closer to their users.

Among the various changes that the pandemic has caused in markets, in consumption patterns and in individuals –such as the gigantic leap in the use of technologies, the increase in e-commerce, the relocation of employment and the need to rethink our individual priorities–there is a greater awareness of the importance of the collective issues and a growing sensitivity to social problems.

In this sense, consumers expect brands to contribute to society, the environment, and to provide for the beginning of a better future for the upcoming generations. However, while 90% percent of consumers expect a social commitment from brands, only between 1% and 3% perceive a real one. Regarding the environment, the gap between consumers’ expectations and their perception of brand involvement is even greater.

All of this leaves companies and brands in a very vulnerable position. For almost 70% of those who purchase goods and services, it is important that the products they buy represent or are aligned with their own values ​​and satisfy their expectations of social and environmental involvement and commitment.

In this context, better work in terms of communication could help. One of the relevant data in the report reveals that in our country there is lack of knowledge rather than scepticism about the actions and commitment of companies concerning the issues of today’s society.

In fact, 51% of those surveyed affirm that they do not know if there are any brands that are socially or environmentally committed in the sectors analysed. The reason, according to the results of the analysis, is that companies have focused more on communicating their efforts internally than on giving them visibility and incorporating them into their external content.

We cannot forget that the brand is the symbolic ecosystem that is formed in the brain of the stakeholders when they encounter the brand, and that the more positive their perception, the better the brand’s financial results. Communication and actions must be aligned, they must transmit and always reinforce, in a consistent and coherent way, the brand’s purpose.

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