Brands succeed by being authentic

10 November 2014

HONG KONG/NEW YORK: Consumers in Hong Kong and mainland China share global opinion that they are more likely to buy from an "authentic" brand, but food safety and data security are particularly important for them, a recent survey has revealed.

The latest Authentic Brands 2014 report from Cohn & Wolfe, the communications agency, found 87% of the 12,000 global respondents who took part believe it is important for businesses to act with integrity at all times.

This surpassed the proportion who rate innovation (72%) and bringing unique products to market (71%) as factors in their buying decisions, according to the survey which included 4,000 consumers in China, Hong Kong, India and Indonesia.

Globally, 63% said they would buy products from an authentic brand over its competitors, a view shared by 66% of consumers in Hong Kong.

"This is a very significant figure because it means a lot of people will change their behaviour with respect to brand authenticity," said Geoff Beattie, global head of corporate affairs at Cohn & Wolfe, in comments reported by Marketing Interactive.

"Authenticity is the foundation that brands need to get right before they can build on top of that the value that comes from innovation and product design. People are looking for a more adult and respectful relationship with brands," he added.

McDonald's is rated the second most authentic brand in Hong Kong – and tops the global list – yet consumers in the territory also expressed high expectations about food safety standards.

A full 80% of consumers in Hong Kong said they would be "extremely angry" if a company used low-quality ingredients in food when promoting a high-quality product, Campaign Asia reported.

This view is shared by 81% of consumers in mainland China, where McDonald's was earlier this year caught up in a scandal involving unhygienic practices at one of its local suppliers. The figure was just 71% in last year's report.

Chinese consumers are also more concerned about data security than they were last year. The number expressing concern about this issue rose to 75% compared to 63% in 2013.

And nearly two-thirds (64%) of Chinese consumers now say they would be extremely angry if a company harmed the environment (versus 51% in 2013), a view shared by 67% of respondents in India.

Finally, the importance of communicating social responsibility in China also emerged with the report finding that 80% of Chinese consumers believe it is important for a brand to stand for more than just making money.

Data sourced from Cohn & Wolfe, Marketing Interactive, Campaign Asia; additional content by Warc staff