There are many roads to influence for brands – but only one common element

Gillian O’Sullivan writes that influence is driven very differently in different industries, but there’s one underlying factor: trust.

 

Technology businesses by their nature have the power to truly influence consumer behaviour. One of the questions we had when embarking on the ‘Most Influential Brands’ study was whether the power to influence was primarily the domain of technology driven companies and industries.

What we identified was that influence is not as simple as you might think. From the consumer’s perspective, there are many angles to influence and this makes it complex. While of course the Facebooks and Googles of this world are very influential, we also found that being leading edge and technology driven isn’t the only means to gain influence.

 

Background on this study

We asked consumers across the globe, including Australia, about the major local and global brands, how they view them, the way they interact with them in their daily lives and how they rate them on a variety of dimensions that drive influence.

We started by identifying 100 well known brands in the Australian market, including in the list household name global businesses, such as Google and IBM, and Australian icons such as Weetbix and Woolworths. After establishing a list, we asked Australian consumers about these brands.

READ ALSO: The 10 most influential brands in Australia – Facebook, Microsoft and Google in top three »

 

Influence is created differently across industry sectors

If you are in the media or technology space, then no surprises that being a ‘leading edge’ brand (innovative, a trendsetter, unconventional, seen to lead your competitors) is key. Google, Microsoft and Apple are brands that ‘set the benchmark consumers compare other brands against’ when it comes to being leading edge.

In the retailing and media space, engagement with consumers is really important. Specifically what we mean by engagement is being a brand that consumers interact with and, most importantly, consumers desire to interact with more and that consumers want to hear more from. The department store brands are lagging behind the supermarkets currently in terms of consumer engagement.

READ ALSO: What brand owners can learn from the world’s ‘local power brands’ »

 

Trust me

What is universally common across all sectors, however, is the importance of trust.  Without trust, consumers will not engage with the brand and, without engagement, there can be little means of influencing behaviour.

Consumers told us they trust companies that are consistent in their messaging, that demonstrate that they understand consumer needs and exhibit behaviours characteristic of a brand with a strong, promising future. Australia Post and Bunnings are not influential brands because they are innovative and leading edge, but because consumers trust them.

 

About the study: Results of the ‘Most Influential Brands’ are based on an online study of 1000 adult residents of Australia using the Ipsos iView panel. The results are based on a sample where weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual Australian population according to Census data. The same survey was conducted in 15 other markets.

Gillian O'Sullivan
BY Gillian O'Sullivan ON 30 October 2014
Gillian O’Sullivan is the managing director of Ipsos Marketing and has 20 years experience in consumer research and marketing. She began her career in brand marketing in consumer healthcare. Having a keen interest in what makes consumers tick, she moved into the consumer research field. Gillian was previously the executive director of consumer research at Nielsen and was also a specialist in services research at AMR. She holds a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) and a Masters of Business (Marketing).