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If your brand went gentle into that good night, would anyone care?

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but in the age of assumption it pays to rely on facts. Especially when those facts continue to re-surface.

Back in 2008 Havas Group unveiled research that suggested most people wouldn’t care if 74% of the world’s brands disappeared. The news rattled many marketers, inspired new ideas and catalysed action.

Then last year, the same Meaningful Brands survey— which takes opinion from 300,000 respondents across 33 countries on some 1,500 brands— revealed that, for all the big talk and even bigger plans, the damning truth hadn’t changed.

Bringing things right up-to-date,  the 2019 edition of Havas’ study has just been published, and across Europe the numbers have actually got significantly worse.

81% of the companies selling products and services in this corner of the world could vanish overnight and the majority of consumers wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Even more depressingly, this year’s instalment included more people and more brands than ever before.

To understand the problem let’s look at some more figures.

In Britain, for example, 90% of the population now expects brands to provide content, but 63% consider the content created by brands to be poor quality, irrelevant, and incapable of delivering what they want.

And by that they mean something that’s  interesting, entertaining, and provides a useful experience or service. Among millennials, a convincing 78% agree with those criteria.

Quality of life and wellbeing are also now hugely important in maintaining and improving perceived brand value. Companies that are seen to play an important role in these areas outperform the stock market by a staggering 134%.

Sadly, in the UK only 33% of people believe brands are working hard enough to do this. Which means most firms are failing to win over the 50% of consumers who would opt to buy from a firm because of its reputation for purpose, rather than profit, rising to 55% among millennials.

We’ve written many times on the rise of brand purpose in the eyes of consumers. Most recently it followed the dominance of purpose-driven ads during the US Super Bowl.

However, the previous instalment of our monthly newsletter also outlined how important it is for brands not to try and exploit the growing trend for social and environmental purpose, unless they really have the credentials.

This means now is the time to ask some fundamental questions about what your brand is, who it represents, where it’s going and what content it makes. If the vast majority of companies could go the way of Nokia with no tears shed the challenge isn’t simply to compete at price and quality point.

Instead, it’s fighting to stay in the public’s conscience through pro-active production and honest support of worthwhile causes.

Take a look at this video to see just how easy it is for even the biggest in their respective businesses to go gently into that good night, then read our latest how to blog, which shows exactly what you need to create in order to keep those consumers on-side.


Want some of this thinking on your side? Let’s talk about how we can help.

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