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Consumers demand innovation from brands but fear personal data is ‘not secure’

Consumers are increasingly demanding brands show them why they should buy products rather than trying to reach them by tugging on their heart strings.

They also expect brands to keep innovating through the use of technology but are fearful those same technologies could come back to haunt them.

The trends emerged in WE Communications Brands in Motion study which quizzed 25,000 people in eight markets including Singapore, India and China.

Chief executive Melissa Waggener Zorkin said the study unearthed “compelling shifts in customer attitudes”.

“Customers continue to have high expectations for brands to use innovative technologies but most are afraid those same technologies might disrupt their lives,” she said. “These fears are causing consumers to demand greater accountability from brands.”

Among the findings in the study was a drift towards rational, rather than emotional drivers.

Global average scores for rational drivers climbed 16% but only 14% for emotional drivers “showing that consumers’ need for reason is outpacing their need to feel emotionally connected to a brand”.

“In short, consumers are insisting brands deliver proof over promise,” it said, adding that it was becoming harder for marketers to “wow and delight both emotionally and rationally”.

Unsurprisingly, 97% of respondents believe brands have a responsibility to use technologically ethically while driving innovation at the same time.

But, spooked by recent scandals – the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach in particular – 84% fear their personal information is not secure. A similar number believe that governments should step in with regulation if brands can’t regulate themselves.

WE president of international, Alan VanderMolen said: “Consumer sentiment isn’t surprising if you look at the current global environment – from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, current struggles with content moderation and the GDPR, to the competing promise and apprehension attached to technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain and autonomous vehicles.”

“Brands have become the middle man, keeping the peace between lightning-speed innovation on one side and thoughtful ethics and regulation on the other. Consumers have now upped the ante and expect them to do more to drive stability in progress.”

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