Brands need to up their game on trust amid consumer angst | WARC | The Feed
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Brands need to up their game on trust amid consumer angst
Poor customer experience, sky-high prices and mismanaged expectations have been a hallmark of the northern summer in categories ranging from utilities to travel, impacting on brand perception and brand trust as the economic outlook worsens.
Energy companies see record profits
As energy companies invest their record profits from high prices in share buybacks and shareholder dividends, accusations of profiteering are increasing. Profits at British oil giant BP have tripled to $8.5bn, thanks to strong refinery profits and high energy prices. Shell and Centrica have also announced record windfalls.
Meanwhile, in the real world…
- The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said in its most recent report that about seven million British families would be living “paycheck to paycheck”, while for 1.2 million people, energy bills would exceed disposable incomes by next year.
- More than 8m households – one in three in the UK – will fall into fuel poverty after October’s price cap rise, according to National Energy Action.
Why it matters
Mistrust is on the rise, especially if consumers perceive companies as prioritising profits over people. A growing sense of anxiety could see a tinderbox of angst in coming months. Consumers generally expect brands to act in line with their values; trust will decline if brands don’t respond accordingly. Brands need to handle this sentiment delicately, or risk turning off their customers for good.
What it means for brands
All brands are operating in a climate of growing consumer mistrust. This impacts how marketers should think about customer engagement.
- Carefully consider public statements with sensitivity in mind. A case in point of what not to say: Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, said the company could not “perform miracles” to bring oil and gas prices down, adding: “It is what it is.”
- Focus on actions and transparency, not just words, to maintain consumer trust.
- Build marketing and communications plans based on various scenarios to ensure the brand is not caught off guard in a fast changing situation.
Source: The Times, Guardian, BBC
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