What consumers want from brands right now – Part 3

What consumers want from brands right now – Part 3

Brands must listen before they speak

In order for brands to connect with consumers, they need to understand how to speak the same language as their target audience. Reaching that understanding, however, starts with listening. And if brands fail to listen, consumers will sense they’re not operating on the same wavelength as them and won’t hesitate to bid companies adieu.

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Company Aerie
Sometimes brands move in the opposite direction and take a gamble by highlighting issues that aren’t trending in their respective industries. For teen retailer Aerie, such a bold move has paid dividends.
While most lingerie retailers focused on using models and a single body type for advertisements, Aerie paid close attention to what actual customers wanted, attaching itself to the conversation women were having online regarding body acceptance and female empowerment. The underwear brand encouraged people to celebrate body positivity and diversity by uploading selfies of themselves online with #AerieREAL. It even gave some women the chance to be cast in Aerie’s latest campaign.
The result? Aerie’s decision to promote authenticity and user-generated content has seen the retailer become a real threat to established market leaders, and the company now approaches a $1 billion valuation.

Bridging the gap: Brands as community builders
It’s no secret brands are already tackling a variety of social and political issues online, taking a stand when it comes to sensitive topics. For brands, the challenge isn’t whether or not to engage in thorny conversations. Instead, they need to identify opportunities to lead those discussions in a way that unites, not divides, consumers.
To bring people together around social and political issues, more than two thirds (67%) of consumers believe brands should raise awareness around those issues on their social platforms. Fifty-six percent of consumers would like brands to highlight awareness days or months on social, similar to how Barbie’s #MoreRoleModels campaign showcased female role models for International Women’s Day. A little under half of consumers (49%) say brands should use social to raise donations and 47% want brands to start conversations with their followers to rally people around touchy subjects.
Which topics brands choose to highlight also matters to consumers. Over three quarters of consumers (76%) say brands talking about natural disasters or crises could unite people on social, while 74% point to education as an appropriate topic for conversation. Other social issues consumers see as opportunities to unite an audience include environmental issues, human rights and poverty.

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