Nick Watt
Nick Watt 30 November 2017

Zero Hour: How Brands can Navigate a World of Mistrust, Misinformation and Multiple Mindsets

It’s difficult for brands to navigate in a world of mistrust, misinformation and multiple mindsets, however there is an opportunity to nurture an environment where brands can rebuild consumer trust by engaging with their social needs and motivations, was the key message outlined at the launch of  global social media agency We Are Social’s latest report ‘Think Forward’.

We Are Social's latest trends report, which reflects people’s social needs and motivations, was compiled in conjunction with experts across politics, technology, media and culture and based on a framework of six key social motivations, developed by We Are Social, which were used as a lens to analyse and categorise the trends:

1. The Certainty

In an era of fake news and a level of mistrust around brands, media and government, consumers have an increased desire for transparency. However, brand need to do more than tell people that they’re transparent, they need to demonstrate it. To give consumers visibility of their operations and products Dodo Pizza and coffee supplier bext360 are using blockchain technology, while French supermarket chain, U, are using Snapchat to show how fresh their seafood is.

2. Connection

AI is making it possible for brands to determine our moods using data, which can be used to develop deep emotional connections with consumers. Brands can now use these emotional analytics to build better connections with consumers that match their real-time needs, rather than trying to second-guess their motives from previous interactions.

3. Belonging

Brands have always looked to empower consumers by getting them involved in their campaigns, however some have taken it one step further. Lego, Starbucks, and Johnson & Johnson have created platforms that allow their customers be part of a vibrant community, where they are contributors playing an active role in shaping its future, rather than simply onlookers.

4. Status

The status held by influencers is on the move as they become more reliant on brands to turn their passion into a profession. Unsurprisingly consumers are becoming tired of the more overt commercialism that comes with these paid-for promotions and endorsements. This has seen the rise of micro-influencers, who have smaller, but fervent and highly engaged followers, which brands such as Adidas and Swiss bag manufacturer Freitag have started to explore.

5. Progression

Brands are having to work harder to represent an increasinly pluralistic society, where diversity is celebrated. And that isn't about just race, gender or morality, but also neurodiversity.  Sainsbury's are taking steps to reflect the needs of people with autism, while Microsoft, SAP and EY are actively hiring neurodiverse talent. Utlmately brands have the opportunity to celebrate the power of different

6. Conscience

Mirroring the prevailing zeitgeist to make a better connection with you your audience is hard if they are split around certain political, moral or social issues, which can often be deep-rooted. One role brands can play is to become the social facilitators. Heineken’s Worlds Apart campaign worked on breaking down stereotypes, creating a platform where different views can expressed and diversity is celebrated.

Mobbie Nazir, Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social and co-author of Think Forward report explained the agencies motivations for producing the report.

“It’s been a year of contradiction. We’ve seen increasing diversity and inclusion as well as greater control and nationalism. Technology continues to evolve at an incredible pace while trust declines. On one hand, data can give us more insights to build this trust, but the process of gaining that data can also destroy it.

“We’re at a critical moment in society, where we all need to start working together. In these conflicted times, it’s difficult for brands to navigate this path, but there’s an opportunity to nurture an environment in which trust can grow. 

Lots of trend reports talk about tech and innovation, but they miss the bigger opportunity for brands to tap into people's social needs and motivations. These needs are amplified through technology, but they have been around way before the likes of Facebook or Snapchat. They are what make us human, and they are powerful drivers of human behaviour.”

After a brief introduction Mobbie introduced a number of guest speakers, including the agency’s own Harvey Cossell, Canvas8's Oli Pattenden, Mary Keane-Dawson from media agency Truth, Kathleen Richardson the Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University, and Alex Krasodomski from cross-party thinktank Demos. You can watch the video of the event here:

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