As Unilever CEO Alan Jope said at Cannes Lions this year, woke-washing is infecting our industry and further destroying trust between consumers and brands. Now, Edelman research has revealed that influencers, not purpose, are the secret to gaining brand trust.
Speaking on stage at the Advertising Week APAC conference, Edelman CEO of global client strategy Michelle Hutton said that 63 per cent of people believe what influencers say about brands, more than what brands say about themselves in their advertising.
In the 18-34-year-old demographic, influencers ranked as the number one channel for learning about new products over news media, direct marketing and social media, according to the research.
With 84 per cent of people following one or more influencers, they are key to connecting with consumers who have become more cynical of traditional advertising in recent years, Hutton explained.
“As authentic, trusted voices, influencers have a lot of impact. Influencers are driving sales. Influencer strategy will drive sales and earn trust and earn advocacy,” she said.
“Rather than being talked at, people want to be talked with… Relatability beats popularity. Conversations are more credible than advertising, and influencers are more trusted than brands.”
While influencers are currently ranking more trusted than traditional advertising, Hutton said hope is not lost for purpose-based advertising, but it must be more than “bolt on CSR”.
“Making a promise is no longer enough. Too many brands are using societal issues as a marketing ploy to sell more products. Consumers see these types of campaigns as a form of trust washing,” she said.
“I think we can all do a better job at advising our clients to do a better job when it comes to the whole concept of social purpose.”
The research also revealed that brands are more trusted than government in today’s society and as a consequence, are expected to play a larger role in society.
Hutton said there has been an evolution in brand trust that has driven consumers to consider the impact that a business has on society, which has a direct correlation to sales.
“We know trust is important. We know people are buying because they trust brands. But they are looking beyond marketing. They are looking for action. They are looking for honest action. Not just taking a stand, but honest action. Yes, people are buying on trust. Brand love is still important, but maybe the new currency is now brand trust,” she said.
Feature image credit: Edelman