Who cares? In truth, nobody. Nobody really cares about what you do,
say or think about your product, brand or company, unless you show them
how it affects them, their life, their family, their health, their
appearance, their wealth and their happiness.
Too many advertisers forget how selfish we all are. We won’t bother to
become even aware of a product, brand or company, unless it’s made clear
how it can help to make us feel prettier, richer or more contented.
I have a four-stage model of good corporate communications that many
advertisers and agencies forget when planning and executing
In every morning’s newspaper, and on every evening’s television, there
are advertisements which will fail, or not be as effective as they
might, because they forget one or more of the four stages. These
are:awareness (here’s who we are); involvement (here’s what we can do
for you); persuasion (here’s what we think); and action (here’s what we
want you to do).
Economic growth means consumers in Europe have been able to afford to
buy far more goods and services. The EU has meant far greater choice is
available from the supply side, and new media has meant different ways
of telling consumers what is available. However, social and cultural
changes have had a major impact over and above the greater
We are now far better educated, and therefore far more discerning about
what we buy. We are also far better informed - there is more information
available via the print and broadcast media, advertising, word of mouth,
education and the internet. We are far more individualistic, far less
deferential and much more tolerant of alternative lifestyles and values
than only a few years ago.
We are redefining what we expect from our institutions. Privatisation is
not just a desire to cut back the role of the state, but an
acknowledgement that many services are better and more efficiently run
by companies led by private- rather than public-sector values.
Companies are now expected to behave in a more socially responsible way,
meaning that they have to shoulder the broader social responsibilities
once deemed to lie with the state.
Environmentalism, which used to be a marginal preoccupation of pressure
groups, has become far more mainstream, and has evolved into a much
broader notion of social responsibility and sustainability. It now
covers social and economic issues, and is of vital importance to
companies seeking a licence to operate in the global community.
These changes have all sorts of implications for how we should be
researching consumer attitudes across Europe. The picture is arguably
far more complex and subtle than it was before. Usage and attitude
studies, brand tracking, concept testing and ad recall are all fine, but
their place is increasingly limited in post-material societies. Because
consumers are more individualistic in their outlook today, they are also
inclined to be far less brand loyal.
As people take on more complex and individualistic roles, then
successful brands will need to appeal to these wider roles.
Robert Worcester is chairman of MORI Social Research Institute and a
fellow of The Marketing Society.