SINGAPORE: Singaporeans believe brands have a role to play in improving society, and brand credibility can be boosted by partnering with government and non-profit organisations, according to a new study.

The 2016 Collaborative Brands Report from the Be An Idea consultancy was based on a survey of 265 Singapore residents. The majority (81%) thought brands ought to contribute towards making society better and more than half (54%) had bought a product or service because the relevant brand supported a social cause.

But any support of such causes has to be genuine and not just a marketing afterthought. The report indicated that more than one third (38%) of respondents had noted brand support for a cause but felt that this was not sincere.

And half of this group had chosen to stop buying that particular brand or service a result.

Writing in Eco-Business, Anthony Caravello, lead consultant for strategic solutions at Be An Idea, observed that brands needed to be clear about their position and demonstrate real commitment.

"No defined social goal, no social program, just a YouTube video and social media engagement – this set-up risks upsetting their audiences by not adequately addressing the issue," he said. "Nobody wants to feel led on."

One way for brands to show that they are serious about what they are saying is to tie up with third parties already working in the area they are interested in.

Thus, among that group of respondents who had seen a brand supporting a cause, six in ten indicated they were likely to be more trusting of such campaigns when government and non-profit partners were involved.

"We believe the era of brands supporting social causes alone is over," said Caravello, as he expected that more Singaporeans would come to look more closely at the claims being made by brands in this regard.

"All campaigns must be backed up with action and with the relevant non-profit and government partners, or brands ultimately risk backlash," he concluded.

Data sourced from Be An Idea, Eco-Business; additional content by Warc staff