BRITISH CONSUMERS are becoming more demanding and less trusting, according to the Brann Consulting Survey 1999. The study, conducted among a nationwide sample of 1,000 adults, reveals a growing cynicism among consumers, especially toward service industries such as banks, supermarkets and telecoms. When it comes to the way companies advertise and market their products, 48% of consumers declared themselves ‘less trusting’. 45% believe themselves to be more demanding than in previous years, while 46% are wary that companies will try to manipulate customers to make them buy more. A mere 16% believe that companies feel they have to give something back in order to persuade customers that their relationship isn’t just a ‘one way street’. Respondents were also asked to categorise their relationship with regularly-used products and services either as a ‘casual acquaintance’ or ‘friend’. Top of the pops was the sample’s favoured tea or coffee brand, 52% viewing it as a ‘friend’; in second place were cars and car dealerships (47%), followed by their favoured beer or spirit brand (34%). Conversely, 70% of respondents saw their telecoms company as no more than a ‘casual acquaintance’, with 60% regarding supermarkets in the same light and 59%, likewise, banks. According to Chris Bromiley, head of Brann Consulting: 'Building a relationship with customers is the Holy Grail of marketing today but this research clearly shows that the challenge is intense... the exciting point for marketers and retailers is that consumers do actually admit to having close relationships with certain brands; if they can understand the mechanism that allows this to happen, a long-term relationship and brand loyalty can be assured.'