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Have Consumers Lost Faith in Brands?
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Today’s consumer is smarter, with more access to information and a more holistic view of the world. Customers not only want more from brands, but they expect it and they deserve it, from the brand that sells them soap to the one that feeds their kids to the one that keeps them connected. And consumers are using the information they have at their fingertips to make decisions about what brands to use and which ones to keep out of their circle.

But there has also been a shift in consumer perception. The brands that were once accepted and relied upon are being asked much tougher questions. How is food sourced? Who makes the products? What standards does this brand have? These are realistic questions, but meager responses and unexpected answers have consumers turning away from brands that don’t meet their expectations. Remember when Nike’s labor issues were uncovered? This was a big disappointment to the brand and one that shifted many consumers away from buying its products. The real issue lies in broken trust; customers once thought they could count on Nike to produce products they love in a way that exceeded their expectations. When that was proven otherwise a bit of trust was lost in the customer brand relationship.

The trust issue does not transcend any brand. Most recently it was found that Starbucks, one of the more “trusted” brands, was using a bug-based red dye in its Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino®. This, from a company that touts natural ingredients and takes sourcing very seriously. Consumers lost a little trust that day. If the good ones can play this game then how can they trust any brand? Luckily, Starbucks realized the issue and made a change, but why did the brand make that decision in the first place?

The consumer and brand relationship is a bit rocky these days. Consumers are looking for better than the best and brands don’t seem to be delivering on this concept. Sure, customers understand that there are limitations and costs, but they still want brands to be open, honest, and to try to push the bounds of what has been done. It’s time for brands to focus on this trust and continue to strengthen and build these important customer relationships.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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