media update’s Adam Wakefield spoke to WE Communications’ president of international and WE+, Alan VanderMolen, about the Brands in Motion study and what its results tell us about the environment brands are living in today.

The study aims to examine both the rational and emotional drivers that motivate customer choices within today’s environment – to decipher brand movement relative to the geography, industry, and key stakeholders. The study identified four types of brands: Movers, Defenders, Agitators, and Survivors.

You can read more about these types of brands in our article, WE Communications reveals its Brands in Motion Study.

What led WE Communications to initiate the Brands in Motion study, and why were South Africa, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Australia selected?

We decided to conduct the study because we wanted to give our clients, and our agency, some actionable insights into how to harness the motion in their markets and in their businesses – motion driven by or inspired by technology. We conducted the study in those specific markets as they are our largest businesses.

What, to you, was the most surprising insight about brands revealed by the study?

Two things:

1. That there was not one industry sector that made it to the mover category that was not directly in the technology business. I thought other industries would get greater recognition for innovation.

2. The link between being seen as ‘cutting edge’, having a strong correlation to better customer satisfaction scores, and higher perceptions of sustainable business practices. Our “Cutting edge is transcendent” reality.

Where would WE Communications’ brand fit within the The Motion Matrix?

Mover, of course.

Why are consumers increasingly expecting brands to take a stand on an important issue, as revealed by all results across the six markets?

By and large, consumers care not just about “what a business does” but “how a business does it”. So, it’s no good to produce products and services with highly functional benefits, if you are not doing it in a sustainable and locally relevant fashion. Consumers today look to brands to provide stability in rapidly changing times. Part of that stability is being ‘there’ in times of need on issues of the day where the brand has a stake.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they would publicly shame an industry if it stepped out of line. Is this on social media? Does this threat of public shaming stifle brand communication or is it an opportunity for the bravest brands – such as Agitators and Movers – to carve out a niche for themselves?  

I agree with that interpretation regarding social media, but, it is not necessarily only limited to social. I think the potential of ‘shaming’ is a call for brands to engage in real time with customers and stakeholders and to address issues swiftly and transparently.

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The results for the South African Brands in Motion study were recently released. You can read more in our article, WE Communications unveils Brand in Motion study results for South Africa.

Image courtesy of Nicolas Henderson, under this license.