In a new global study of senior marketers, online review platform Trustpilot has revealed that internal culture, such as lack of senior stakeholder buy-in, lack of employee engagement and an internal culture resistant to change is the top reason (83 per cent) Australian businesses fail to support social, political or environmental issues. Read the report in full HERE.
This is despite more than 70 per cent of respondents agreeing that adopting an ethical stance leads to increased sales and revenue.
The latest study, commissioned for Trustpilot’s Brands that take a stand report, interviewed 600 marketers across the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden to compare and contrast findings against Trustpilot’s Brand integrity: the new frontier for marketing study, which surveyed 7,000 consumers from the same eight territories about their attitudes to taking an ethical stance and being honest in brand marketing campaigns from September 2021.
Other factors, identified by Australian marketers, holding brands back include confusing regulation (61 per cent); lack of skills or know-how (59 per cent); concerns about a lack of positive, or risk of negative commercial impact (49 per cent); and relevancy to the business (36 per cent). This news comes at a time when half of Australian consumers say they now consider a business’ stance on ethical issues before they go to checkout, with 95% of respondents saying a business’ honesty and transparency is a deciding factor in their purchasing decisions.
Overall, across all markets, those working across home or electronic brands were slightly more likely to promote a stance (61 per cent), whereas those within the fashion or financial sectors were both slightly less likely to promote a stance (57 per cent).
Whilst 75 per cent of Australian marketers agree that demonstrating support for ethical issues is important – with 73 per cent saying that doing so can win new customers – with lack of internal support and buy-in halting progress, the research suggests marketers may be failing to move the dial and effectively communicate that importance to business stakeholders. Worse yet, 39 per cent of Australian marketers surveyed believe that not demonstrating a stance on ethical issues can be detrimental to a business by leading to poor reviews and ratings, with 36 per cent admitting that failing to do so can reduce sales – suggesting that pressure for marketers to win over stakeholders is mounting.
Yet whilst marketers agree on the value for a business in taking a stance on ethical issues, the research did warn brands to ensure they practise what they preach – as a survey of consumers found that unfair treatment of staff and suppliers, greenwashing and poor customer service top buying turn offs.
Cameron Buckley, regional director – APAC at Trustpilot, said: “Australian marketers have a great opportunity to start promoting and talking about the brand’s ethical stance, which not only meets consumer expectations but it also fulfils a wider strategic marketing stance. While we are seeing some great local examples of Australian brands adopting this approach, there is still a gap in what consumers expect from brands. The brands that are willing to invest in explaining what they do, or don’t stand for, will be the ones that will stand out and ultimately win over consumers.”
When asked where they go to verify a business’ ethics and values, social media (46 per cent), friends and family (45 per cent), and reviews websites such as Trustpilot (43 per cent) were the joint top three sources consumers said they go to – demonstrating the growing influence consumers have on other consumers’ spending habits, in comparison to more traditional sources such as TV and radio.
Alicia Skubick, chief marketing officer at Trustpilot, said, “While taking a stance and supporting ethical issues has perceived value, in a world of misinformation and declining trust, ensuring your brand is honest and transparent about its position on issues is what adds real value.
“Clearly there has never been a more crucial time for marketers to win over internal stakeholders and ensure businesses are taking an ethical stance. Brands which vocalise support for social, environmental and political issues must do so authentically in order to resonate with savvy consumers, otherwise – as social media and reviews play an increasingly influential role in spending decisions – they risk turning customers away.
“Our research gives brands an accessible strategy towards honesty, ensuring they connect to the growing numbers of consumers who are loyal to and advocate for brands which represent their values.”
In a world of declining trust and misinformation, Trustpilot works to connect businesses with consumers by gathering open, honest feedback, which helps consumers shop with confidence and businesses improve their service. The report comes as part of the company’s aim of becoming a universal symbol of trust.
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