—By Larissa Faw
Fewer than half of Americans (45%) claim they have strong connections with popular brands, according to marketing agency Momentum Worldwide's global study across nine countries.
Researchers mapped consumer sentiment between brand exposure and brand indifference by asking respondents to classify their feelings toward well-known brands by types of interpersonal relationships -- specifically, whether they see a particular brand as a family member, friend, acquaintance or enemy.
Millennials illustrate the strongest contrast among consumers in their relationships with brands. Globally, those who see brands as the closest to them are ages 25–31, whereas those with the least strongest relationship are between ages 18-24.
“What we are seeing here is a critical case of brand fatigue for countries in which people have experienced a sustained and extensive exposure to brand messages," says Matthew Gidley, director of insight and strategy, Momentum UK. "As global brands become more accessible to a greater variety of people, less and less are using them as status symbols or emblems to demonstrate their own success. Instead, they expect these brands to open up an honest and authentic dialogue upon which they can build their own stories.”
The study found that consumer opinions about brands are influenced by social networks. In fact, there is an 89% positive correlation between brands that are seen as most authentic online, and brands which people would consider part of their family.
There are notable differences between regions. Developing countries have apparently overloaded on brand exposure. Two in 10 Americans claim their relationship to brands as most analogous to enemy or arch rival status. Over half (54%) of those asked in Britain and 55% of those in Japan would not consider brands as more than an acquaintance. In fact, Japan tops the list of nations where affection for brands is low, with only 13% holding affection for the brands.
At the same time, emerging countries are developing meaningful relationships with popular brands. More than a third of those surveyed in Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines would consider brands as a member of their own family.
“Our research is a wake-up call for global brands in more developed economies, making clear that they must evolve with their changing audiences to guarantee their relevance and their futures,” says Chris Weil, chairman, CEO, Momentum Worldwide. “Today, people demand authentic connections and value, making the ability to create individual, personalized experiences a higher priority than ever."
This research was carried out across Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the U.S.