Mindshare’s Preeti Mascarenhas outlines three critical reasons why brands are adopting a more conscious approach to brand-building.

This article is a guide for marketers to follow the key ‘Shastra’ (which in Sanskrit means “precept, rules, manual, compendium”) of engaging with customers, category and brands with consumer interest at heart of everything. In an era of balancing brand-building versus performance, brands that follow this as a first rule will always benefit in longer-term battles.

We do not talk to ‘targets’, we talk to human beings who live constantly in different spheres with different fears, from data privacy to economic downturns.

While brands get into unwinnable wars for mind measures and conversions, there are a few critical reasons for why brands are adopting a more conscious approach to brand-building based on four key ‘shastra’, or rules for new age marketing.

1.1 Data ethics, and planning with consumer interest at heart

Do consumers feel safe? How can businesses create a trusted relationship with consumers and their data?

Base: [Loop 2] All Respondents: n=8408, Unwilling to share personal data with other media platforms: n=4827
SOURCE : GroupM consumer eye survey – proprietary GroupM survey data and ethics at a glance

The critical step towards safeguarding consumer interest is to ask them what they feel about it. GroupM’s key surveys and Consumer Eye reports from September 2022 have helped in shaping data safety and ethics practices across brands in Asia.

When we start by looking at consumers’ overall understanding and concerns regarding data privacy and sharing personal information online, the key concerns from a consumers point-of-view are:

  • 71% of Asian consumers are concerned about the information that entities collect. This is due the purpose of data collection, and options for granting/refusing consent to collect of personal data. How personal data is shared about the web is also a big concern.
  • 69% of consumers in Asia are concerned about apps holding too much information about them. First-party data will become most important – hence consumer concerns about privacy should be key focus for when we design first-party data collection.

Key implications in media

There is a positive outlook towards using advertising data for personalisation and making the life of the consumer easier. Close to 43% of consumers find personalised ads more useful, since they direct them to products they need, they ease the path to purchase, and save time looking for product information.

17% never read the terms indicated in a cookie consent popup/banner. Hence it’s increasingly evident and important that the media is a catalyst in protecting consumers and building safer environments.

The role of media is more about leveraging personalised ads to reduce ads that they don’t want to see or don’t need. Governments will play a big role in the coming years as the regions set the governance normatives based on codes in culture.

1.2 Consumer interest, mindset change and making advertising work better for people

How can brands balance the need for marketing effectiveness with consumer trust? How can publishers and platforms create an exchange with consumers to deliver a sustainable business and optimal media experience? How can the whole advertising industry make itself work better for people?

Conscious consumerism is on rise. It’s a key area Asians look for in their stop-go-lives, where they are surrounded by basic ‘needs and realisations’. 57% care about good health and well-being, and clean water and affordable energy. They want to be a part of brands that take climate action and also believe in responsible consumption and production.

In a nutshell, it’s about being more focused on things that worry them and what they care about. Brands will benefit from more responsibly designing data solutions and also selecting channels and platforms that consumers perceive as making the world a better place. Some of the key platforms like video, FTV and newspapers are perceived to be make world a better place, and consumers agree that these platforms can shape culture to be more responsible.

Willingness to share personal data with other media platforms

Viewing tech-enabled lifestyles and platform intelligence from a local as well as a regional lens helps to build behavioral targeting for brands. The good news is that 43% of consumers in APAC are willing to share personal data with media platforms. Hence consumer preference and behaviors can be mapped more accurately than before based on their tastes.

Concerns with brands advertising to kids

The key checklists when brands talk to kids would be around the promotion of unhealthy food, sexual objectification of children, and also encouragement of children to pressure parents and other adults into making purchases. Making claims that make are bolder and unrealistic can shape budding minds wrongly. Hence being more cognizant of the fact that we are talking to budding minds and shaping future through responsible advertising to kids.

1.3 Institutionalizing change in executional excellence and sustainability at the heart of optimization in media

GroupM has unveiled a carbon measurement standard to organise decarbonisation practices. GroupM and WPP have themselves set commitments to reach net-zero across direct operations (known as scope 1 and scope 2 emissions under the GHGP) by 2025 and its value chain (scope 3) by 2030.

At present, WPP’s current carbon footprint is comprised of 98.3% scope 3 emissions, 55% of which is caused by media. GroupM notes that though a number of media carbon calculators do currently exist, they use inconsistent parameters – disallowing the ability to compare emissions from one channel to another – and data and calculation methodology.

The result is overly broad and sometimes inaccurate estimates of media campaigns’ carbon footprints. GroupM’s calculation allows for a standardized form of measurement that can apply to 11 different media channels (TV, video on-demand, cinema, social media, digital, print, out-of-home, digital-out-of-home, radio, digital audio, and transient) and applies the GHCP’s ‘lifecycle of an ad’ model.

Stages of the lifecycle that are measured include raw material cultivation and extraction, production, distribution and storage, consumer use, and end of life. GroupM stressed that the primary concern for now are the first three stages (known as ‘cradle-to-gate’ as opposed to ‘cradle-to-grave’), which advertising companies can have more direct and immediate control over. GroupM notes that there are further challenges in measuring ‘gate-to-grave’ emissions that still need to be considered.

Users can input their media channels, options, and channel investment size into the calculation, which breaks down the overall expected carbon footprint across five different stages (broken up in 14 total sub-stages) across their ad’s lifecycle.

Sources of insights and data

1. Choreograph and GroupM conducted a study across 25,000 consumers in 25 markets worldwide, through an Audience Origin re-contact survey, with the objective of understanding consumer attitudes and behaviour towards a range of social causes as well as their expectations of brands and companies in this area.

2. The data collection was conducted between 15 July and 19 September 2022 and the markets included were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UK, and USA.

3. Consumer Eye study now in its fifth wave. Consumer Eye is a GroupM initiative to explore emerging technology from consumers’ perspective. It aims to reveal how the merger of media, data and technology is transforming consumer experiences and what you should do about it as a marketer or organisation. Online interviews and fieldwork period: end April – mid June 2022, total sample size: n = 16,811 APAC markets.