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23 June 2015

The Simple Truth

Consumer Trends & Insight, Culture, Innovation

Why do people crave innovation, even though new is not always better and it often comes with a perceived risk? What do brands need to do?

We wanted to learn more about disruptive innovators and what marketers and communicators could learn from businesses and brands that have reimagined categories, products and services. Especially new disrupters like Uber, airbnb and other businesses that have fundamentally changed the way we consume products and services even beyond their own sectors.

So we did a unique study with consumers from across the globe exploring their real feelings about innovation and new rela­tionships with brands.

The Earned Brand study revealed a simple truth: Brands that inno­vate well create human relation­ships, as such, they consumer trust and the right to innovate – they are the Earned Brands.

There will always be the lovers and the haters of change and in­novation. But we now know that people believe in the promise of innovation. We also found that it doesn’t matter about geography, demographic or sector…two-thirds of consumers are conflicted, undecided and need to be reassured before they will purchase.

People now ask their friends, use the Internet and their peer-to-peer social networks to get reassurance. They want to talk to others who’ve had the same experience, made the same mistakes, and found the best answer. And these people tell the truth, not just the latest brand story.

So if it’s about people talking to people, what is the role for brands? Our study found brands win if they embrace and power the peer conversation. People across the globe told us that they trust brands more if they find it easy to review their products and services. And just as importantly, they trust the brands that encourage people to review their products and services.

When you group tribes of people together around their tolerance for risk and their attitudes towards innovation, you start to get a clear picture of what people want from innovative brands. This gives us a key to the behaviours that will reassure these different peer tribes.

We have classified the conflicted consumers into the following Innovation Typologies:

The Traditionalist

Traditionalists fear losing the old ways of doing things; they fear losing touch and are very concerned about having to be “always on.” To engage with this group, brands need to deliver purpose and show them how the brand is part of an authentic experience.

The Analyzer

Analyzers love innovation, but is concerned about a brand’s motive, the impact of the innovation on the environment, and the impact of overconsumption. To engage with this group, brands need to inform and educate – they need to be given the facts so that they can make up their minds.

The Rebel

Rebels might like innovative brands, but they believe that everything is becoming average and that people are becoming like robots just taking the innovation and upgrades as they come without question. To engage these people, brands need to make their mark and help theses consumers stand out from the crowd.

The Creator

Creators want innovative brands to encourage creativity and make them look smarter. They love brands and creating content—but they are overwhelmed with options and concerned about priva­cy issues. This group needs to be engaged by brands creating a clear character and giving them a way to wear the brand as a “badge”.

What we can all learn from disruptive innovators is a new model of marketing in action.

It’s not just about the messaging, storytelling and choosing the right channels. It’s about how your brand behaves and earns the right to be considered, engaged and shared. It’s about using the right communication approach…listening, shaping and treating groups of people as communities, not just a marketplace. Brands become Earned Brands by joining the peer-to-peer econo­my, learning how to fuel, not control, and shape the conversation.

Written by Michelle Hutton, global practice chair, Consumer Marketing.

This article originally appeared on

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