Consumers will spend more for trust, personalization—but don’t like being called consumers

by | Apr 8, 2022 | Public Relations

With a surprising new brand mandate, a growing number of Americans are pushing back against being labeled “consumers”—and instead will reward brands that communicate with them on a personal level, according to a new survey by Boston creative communications agency CTP.

More than 64 percent of 1,200 people surveyed prefer to do business with brands that understand them on a human level and cater to their personal needs. That number jumps to 72 percent with those 25-34 years-old. Only 35 percent of respondents want to keep it all business and be treated like the average consumer.

For companies that strike that human connection with their audiences the result could mean a more enduring and profitable bond

Two-thirds of respondents say they are willing to pay a premium for a brand that communicates with them on a personal level. Additionally, nearly six in 10 people said they would buy more products and services from the brands that reward loyalty, and nearly four in 10 said they would buy more from brands who are in a real relationship with them.

“It’s time for marketers to outright cancel the consumer,” said Steve Angel, CTP’s SVP and director of strategy, in a news release. “That’s what the people in this survey told us loud and clear. They want to be treated as humans, not transactions. Humans want to be heard, and be understood. They’ve grown accustomed to personalization and choice, making them less likely to respond to mass marketing. The good news? They will be loyal and spend more on brands that they trust, like and with whom they feel a connection.”

Most people are already in a healthy relationship with at least one brand. That is especially true for 73 percent of males ages 25-54 years old and 62 percent of women 18-24.

What people are looking for in a brand relationship

According to the survey, brands looking to develop strong connections with their audience should focus heavily on trust, even ahead of convenience and product quality.

  • Being trustworthy and reliable were ranked the most important traits in the survey with 76% of those polled listing those qualities as very important;
  • Providing excellent customer service: 70 percent said this is very important;
  • Ensuring superior product quality and innovation: 69 percent listed as very important.

Standing up for a cause
The survey also revealed the impact of a brand’s approach to certain issues around social justice, health equity and the environment. Overall, four in 10 adults ranked standing up for social or environmental issues as very important, but some audiences ranked it more important than others. Sixty-one percent of women ages 18-24 and 55 percent of men ages 18-54 found standing up for causes very important, while just 16 percent of men over 54 and 28 percent of women over 54 said it was very important.

Providing entertaining or insightful perspectives is a helpful communications tactic in building relationships with certain audiences but only 33 percent of respondents said it was very important when developing a relationship with the brand.

Impact of income, age and gender on brand relationships

A relationship between a brand and its audience may also be influenced by additional factors related to a person’s income, age and gender. For instance, those who earn a higher income may find it more likely to establish a meaningful relationship with a brand, with 72 percent of adults who earn at least $100,000 reporting that to be true, compared to the 56 percent of respondents overall. An even greater disparity was found among gender with 73 percent of men between ages 25-54 saying they can have such a relationship, while only 52 percent of women in that age group feel the same.

People provide more information to brands who befriend them

Brands that prioritize trust and human relationships are more likely to receive information from their audiences. According to the survey, people who feel a connection with a brand are most comfortable providing basic information about themselves, including name (48 percent), email (51 percent) and birthday (52 percent), as well as personal tastes, like music (58 percent) and favorite hobbies (54 percent). They become less willing to share information like income (34 percent) and home address (37 percent), but even less willing to share any information if they don’t feel a connection with the brand.

Building deeper connections is a two-way street

Nearly 68 percent expect something in return, largely in the form of discounts and offers relevant to their personal interests.

For more information, visit canceltheconsumer.org.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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