What brand owners can learn from the world’s ‘local power brands’

When it comes to local brands, being ‘trustworthy’ is a key dimension, writes Gillian O’Sullivan, in a follow-up piece to the findings of Ipsos’ research into the most influential brands in Australia.

We live in a global business community. Not surprisingly then, across the globe the majority of the most influential brands are either international or global in nature.

These brands have big engines, they have synergy, depth of talent, centres of excellence and they have scale. This makes it a challenge for local brands to compete.

The results of the Ipsos ‘Most Influential Brands Study’, however, demonstrate that it is indeed possible for local brands to stand out from their global competitors. Local brand owners can learn something from these ‘power locals’.

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.

Australian local ‘power brands’

Out of the top 10 most influential brands in Australia, four are local brands. They are Woolworths, Coles, Australia Post and Telstra. This is double the number of most other markets that participated in this study, including countries such as Canada, France, Italy and Singapore.

So what does it take to be an influential brand in Australia? Across all brands in the study, the factors that drive influence most are ‘leading edge’, ‘engagement’ and ‘trustworthy’.  However, when it comes to local brands, being ‘trustworthy’ is king, clearly outweighing any other dimension.

Australians trust Australia Post (number eight in the list). They trust this brand because it is dependable, established and socially responsible. Woolworths (number four in the list) is also a trusted brand – it understands consumer needs and it actively cares about and supports local communities. Bunnings (number 11 in the list) also understands consumer needs and is seen to be committed to local communities.

Consumers trust local brands that demonstrate a commitment to local communities. Grass-roots support is particularly important for Australian locals. With this recognition as being a company that supports local initiatives, comes trust, brand usage and commitment.

The other element that unites all Australian brands at the top end of the list is consistency in the message of what the brand stands for. Consistency is key to establishing and maintaining brand trust and confidence. Woolworths, Vegemite and Weetbix are all recognised for consistently communicating a clear brand message.

‘Local power brands’ from around the world

Strong corporate citizenship is a theme across all local power brands in the study. Local brands such as Bimbo in Mexico, a large Mexican owned bakery, is recognised for its environmentally responsible initiatives. A similar story for the Brazilian manufacturer and marketer of beauty products, Natura and Tim Horton’s coffee house in Canada, known for its initiatives in supporting Canadian children.

It is clear from this study that good corporate citizenship activities are crucial elements for building consumer trust in local brands. Trust builds a connection with the brand and ensures that consumers truly buy into the brand promise. Once consumers buy into the promise the brand gains relevance. Consumers are motivated to make informed brand choices and to engage with the brand in a more meaningful way. Several Australian brands are doing this well and with consistency. For others, the message is clear, don’t forget the importance of investing in local initiatives and spreading the word on the good work you have done.

About the study: Results are based on an online study of 1000 adult residents of Australia using the Ipsos I-view 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 nine other markets, with a total global sample size of 15,152.

Gillian O'Sullivan
BY Gillian O'Sullivan ON 22 August 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).