Brands Need To Catch Up To Consumers’ Expectations: Gap Study

Brands Need To Catch Up To Consumers’ Expectations_ Gap Study

The FleishmanHillard 2021 Authenticity Gap study across five markets and 300 companies shows the need for brands to close the gap between what they promise and how they really behave.

FleishmanHillard launched the Authenticity Gap study in 2012 to analyse the alignment between consumer expectations and experiences, interviewing informed consumers in five countries about their views on more than 200 companies in 20 industries. The data helps companies judge how authentic they are, where they’re falling short and how they’re stacking up against their industry competitors regarding customer benefits, societal outcomes and management behaviours.

The Authenticity Gap measures the gap between consumer expectations and their actual experiences of a company or brand using the Nine Drivers of Authenticity that shape consumer perceptions and beliefs. The study shows that nearly two-thirds of consumers (64%) believe that for a company to be more credible than its competitors it must talk about its behaviour and impact on society and the environment, not just the customer benefits it offers. 

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What we learned from the report; 

  • 75 per cent of industries studied are failing to meet customer expectations on caring for the environment. 
  • 95 per cent of the industries studied aren’t meeting expectations when it comes to providing customers better value
  • Across all industries, consumers expect companies to demonstrate a commitment to improving, but almost half (45 per cent) are failing to deliver innovative solutions
  • Data security and privacy are top of the list of things consumers care about and expect companies to act on
  • less than half, 45 per cent,  are willing to let companies collect their personal information to provide them with greater convenience and personalisation

“With beliefs, views and facts increasingly polarised, organisations around the world need genuine insight into how to authentically communicate, based on who they are, and what the world expects of them,” said John Saunders, president and CEO, FleishmanHillard. “They need to be able to hear from people who are engaged in their sector, understand how they fare against the competition and know what really matters to their audiences.”

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Key findings include:

Leaders need to take a stand 

  • Two-thirds (65 per cent) of informed consumers expect CEOs to speak up on issues that have a significant impact on society, even if they may not impact the business
  • Three-in-four consumers (73 per cent) believe CEOs must have an active voice on supporting and influencing environmental issues and policy change
  • 65 per cent of consumers say CEOs should play a role in influencing health policy

Companies need to be a part of the solution

  • Though diversity and inclusion practices are becoming paramount for employees, nearly half of consumers (48 per cent) in most markets feel companies can do more to make the workplace better
  • More than a third (38 per cent) of consumers expect companies to take a public stance on the income gap
  • Over half (55 per cent) of consumers think companies aren’t committed to doing the right thing, especially in Brazil (75 per cent), China (56 per cent) and the US (54 per cent)

Data security is the top priority for informed consumers 

  • 65 per cent say companies must demonstrate to me they have meaningful data and consumer protection practices that go beyond mandated regulations
  • 56 per cent say privacy concerns have made me less likely to use products or services from companies that use data for their benefit
  • 45 per cent say I am willing to let companies collect my personal information to provide me with greater convenience and personalisation