Despite high levels of connectivity, brands face a struggle to connect with Australians via online channels, according to digital research firm Kantar TNS’s latest Connected Life research.
Kantar TNS surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries and conducted 104 in-depth interviews as part of the 2017 Connected Life study. The research explored consumer trust in brands in relation to four themes: technology, content, data, and e-commerce. The findings show that while Australians spend 4.9 hours online every day, the opportunity for brands to engage with them there is under threat, as consumers are failing to see the value exchange from sharing personal data and are sceptical of brand motivations.
This trend is not limited to Australia – the study revealed that trust in large global brands varies significantly between emerging and developed markets: in Indonesia, approximately half (47 per cent) of consumers trust big global brands, however consumer trust falls significantly in developed markets like New Zealand, where just 21per cent trust big global brands.
The findings also show that despite the ever-growing benefits that can be delivered through sharing data, Australians are cautious about how much of their personal data they share online. Over half (54 per cent) of consumers in Australia object to connected devices monitoring their activities even if it makes their lives easier, and 56 per cnet have concerns about the amount of personal data that brands have on them. When it comes to data, people are becoming increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.
The research also reveals that mistrust filters through to the content that people are consuming online, as just 14per cent of Australian consumers consider the content they see on social media reliable. Half also have concerns about how much control the social media networks have over the content that they see on their feeds.
Commenting on the findings, Alistair Leathwood, executive director, Australia, Kantar TNS said: “When it comes to their opinions of global brands, Australians are some of the most sceptical consumers in the world. Years of being exposed to ineffective digital advertising has resulted in mistrust and disengagement. Consumers are aware of the value of their data and they are not going to give it away freely without feeling that they are getting something in return. Brands that want to forge meaningful relationships with consumers online are going to have to work hard to overcome these barriers and truly demonstrate new and meaningful ways to connect with Australians.”
The rapid evolution of technology is enabling brands to develop better, smoother customer service experiences, but poor deployment or a failure to meet basic needs can erode consumers’ trust and confidence in brands. Only 22 per cent of Australians say that they would accept interacting with an AI-powered machine such as a chatbot if it meant their query was dealt with more quickly, and 46 per cent would object to using one.
This year’s findings also showed that while advances in technology aim to make consumers’ lives simpler and easier, people feel increasingly distracted and harassed by it: 37 per cent of 16-24 year olds in Australia think they use their mobile phones too much – higher than the global figure of 34 per cent.
New technologies such as ‘buy buttons’ in social and mobile payments are making ecommerce more frictionless. However, despite the mature digital ecosystem in Australia, only 18 per cent of Australians say that they are willing to pay for products using their mobile phone. It’s clear that for many people, the existing payment systems still work, therefore brands and businesses need to truly demonstrate the benefit to using new payment options if they want acceptance to increase.
Alistair continued: “It’s clear that Australians are less open to using newer technologies such as AI chatbots or mobile payments, perhaps because they have tried these while still in their infancy and found them lacking. We’re finally reaching a turning point with these technologies, however businesses will need to prove the value-add to convince Australians to change their behaviour.”
Michael Nicholas, global lead of connected solutions, Kantar TNS, concluded:“Trust is fragile. Brands in emerging countries see higher levels of consumer trust today than those in developed ones but they shouldn’t take it for granted. To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data. Above all, that means putting the customer first – something that many marketers have forgotten to do.”