GLOBAL: Innovation is as important as ever for global consumers, but unnerving revelations about data security and other issues over the past year have prompted consumers to demand that brands use technology ethically and responsibly, a new survey has revealed.

Consumer sentiment in this regard is so strong that nearly all (97%) respondents across eight key markets now expect brands to use technology ethically while continuing to drive customer-focused innovation.

At least as concerning for brands, a similar proportion (94%) believe that if brands can’t use technology in an ethical manner then governments should intervene.

These are some of the headline findings from the Brands in Motion 2018 study, released by WE Communications, the global PR and digital communications company.

Working with research firm YouGov, WE polled more than 25,000 consumers and B2B decision-makers in Australia, China, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa, the UK and the US about their emotional and rational responses to 90 brands across eight industry categories.

In addition to confirming that consumers around the world expect high ethical standards from brands, the survey revealed some of the concerns underpinning the development.

For example, 84% of those surveyed fear their personal data is not secure, 67% fear being a pedestrian in a world of autonomous cars, while 54% worry that they will lose their jobs to artificial intelligence.

“We are seeing some compelling year-over-year shifts in customer attitudes,” said Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO of WE Communications.

“Consumers continue to have high expectations for brands to use innovative technologies, but most are afraid of how those same technologies might disrupt their lives. These fears are causing consumers to demand greater accountability from brands,” she added.

Perhaps because of these fears, the survey also noted a shift towards rational drivers among consumers, such as functionality and value for money, rather than emotional ones.

Based on WE’s Motion Matrix diagnostic tool, the survey showed that from 2017 to 2018 average brand motion global scores rose 16% for rational drivers and 14% for emotional drivers. “In short, consumers are insisting brands deliver proof over promise,” the report said.

Sourced from WE communications; additional content by WARC staff