WE study: Consumers are ready to keep brands in check

The Brands in Motion study found a call for collective accountability for ethical use of tech.

It’s not just up to brands and the government to make sure companies are using technology ethically. Consumers say that they, too, have a role to play, according to the global Brands in Motion 2019 study from WE Communications.

This year’s study found that consumers want technology to improve their lives, but not at any cost. Nearly all respondents (97 percent) agreed that companies are responsible for using technology ethically, and 92 percent said they would stop using a product or service due to unethical use of customer data. The study also found that 96 percent of respondents said there is a need for collective accountability beyond companies and the government.

"A lot of the conversation last year was that we need to have technology that is ethically sourced and responsible," said WE founder and global CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin. "We need to feel that companies are leading with their purpose. Last year, people were saying brands and government should do this and we need it done. This year, 96 percent are saying, ‘We need to be part of the solution, too.’"

WE partnered with YouGov to field the third iteration of the Brands in Motion survey among more than 25,000 consumers and B2B decision-makers in eight global markets: the U.S., U.K., Mainland China, Australia, Singapore, Germany, South Africa and India.

Consumers also want brands to be human at the core and lead with purpose, build new levels of trust and respect with customers and create meaningful impact in the way a brand operates both globally and locally.

The study found that 54 percent of respondents want the brands they support to balance a great product with powerful purpose and activism, and 53 percent want brands to address environmental problems both locally and globally.

"A lot of people starting companies intrinsically began with purpose at the center," said Waggener Zorkin. "They know what to do right. The old guard companies that have been around for a long time understand they need to do it, too, and they are transforming."

A main takeaway for communicators is that clients should lead with purpose and ensure it runs intrinsically through each decision they make, as well as doing as they say, said Waggener Zorkin.

"The biggest thing is how important employees are," she said. "They are a company’s most important stakeholders."

This story originally appeared in PRWeek.

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