Given the fast-paced nature of marketing research, our clients and key partners often don’t have the time to reflect on the insights they acquired in 2012 before diving head first into 2013. Therefore, Insights in Marketing has decided to start a new tradition to save our clients a little time and provide some momentum into the New Year. We reflected back on all of the 2012 insights we uncovered (via our qualitative & quantitative research) and wish to share with our “inner circle” of trusted clients and partners the most impactful consumer & brand takeaways/insights that we learned in 2012. Below are the first 4 of IIM’s top 12 insights of 2012 that focused on building and maintaining brand trust (more top insights to come – check our blog throughout January).

2012 Best of

Keep Building Trust Through Authenticity, Transparency & Accountability

Supporting Insights That Matter:

1. Authenticity & Transparency Are Even More Critical to Building Brand Trust

Given the extended economic downturn, consumers continue to feel like some brands are neglecting them and taking advantage of their long-established relationships (e.g. reformulating products and shrinking packaging size to reduce costs without changing pricing). With private label competition intensifying, brands no longer have the luxury of betraying consumers’ trust once in a while to save a buck. Consumers are savvier than ever and are starting to turn their backs on brands that are not putting them first and communicating with them in a straightforward, transparent, and authentic manner. Chrysler is a good example of a company that is maintaining its authenticity and transparency despite the dire circumstances of its industry. The Eminem “Motor City” Super Bowl ad promoted Detroit pride and told the authentic story of Chrysler while demonstrating its strengths, shared values, and history with consumers.

Implication/Action: Don’t forget to take the time to check in with consumers about their relationship with the brand/product. Questions related to brand trust and authenticity don’t have to be in every research study, but they should be tracked throughout the year.

2. Accountability via Social Media Is Increasingly Important To Maintaining Trust

More and more we are seeing consumers connect with brands via social media platforms and communities (especially with the proliferation of mobile devices). Social media platforms not only provide brands a platform for accountability, but also provide brands with a medium to communicate thought-leadership (via expert content), brand transparency, and to deliver quick/excellent customer service (all of which foster and maintain consumer trust). From leveraging product ratings to responding to consumer inquiries on Facebook, brands that take risks of evaluation in social media are seeing their efforts pay off.

Implication/Action: Supplement in-depth market research with social media and social review tools by actively asking questions about your consumers’ relationship with your brand. Encourage company & product evaluations and demonstrate responsiveness/accountability via social tools.

Maintain Trust By Focused Messaging and Emphasizing Product Gains

Supporting Insights That Matter:

3. Eating Right Is Better Than Eating Wrong

Based on our qualitative research (and other quantitative research studies1) in the food and beverage category this year, we have noticed an increased awareness among consumers about the presence of “good for you ingredients” in food. “Gain”  or positively framed message release dopamine in the brain causing us to move want of whatever is associated with its release.2 Therefore, marketing “the presence of positives” is better received (fiber,etc.) than promoting the absence of negatives (reduced fat, calories,etc.).

Implication/Action: Frame messages so they accentuate the functional and emotional gains your consumer will experience by using your product. Leverage the natural dopamine release we all experience when we feel like we have done something good.

4. Products Don’t Need to Have it All, Just a Consistent Story

While consumers ideally would like products that have it all, they are more realistic than we think. For example, we have seen in 2012 that consumers are willing to compromise on their need for strong efficacy when they also seek convenience. Findings from 30+ years of behavioral economics and our 2012 research show the same thing: people more heavily weigh the consistency and coherence of a message over its length, quality, or completeness.3?

Implication/Action: Your product doesn’t need to be perfect to be successful, but it does need to have a consistent and coherent story. Focus on keeping messages as simple and streamlined as possible. Anything not speaking back to the main point of your message should be removed.

Wondering what insights #5-#12 are from IIM’s best of 2012 list?  Access insights #5 – 8 here! Curious about the top female insights that made our list?  Check out our i-on-Women team’s top insights #9 – 12!

Like what you’re reading?  Sign-up for our Inspiring Insights blog updates- we will be posting more impactful insights and strategic advice throughout 2013!

1 According to Harris Interactive, awareness of key nutritional facts is high. At least 75 percent of U.S. adults place importance on fresh (89%), fiber (81%), whole grains (81%), when making food and beverages purchases (this is higher than fat content 80%, calories 77% and saturated fat 77%).

2 Van Praet, Douglas. Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (And Inspire) Marketing. pg. 19.

3 Kahneman, Daniel.Thinking Fast And Slow. pg. 87.