Consumers are putting increasingly less trust in brands. And watch out for privacy.

In brief
Trust, influence, personalization and privacy will be decisive in the relationship between brands and the mass market in the immediate future.

Trust, influence and personalisation. According to AT Kearney, one of the “stars” of international management consulting, these will be the indispensable prerequisites for any future action in the consumer market. The summary that gives the title to their recent study on the mass market, represents at best the change in effect: “influence against influence”. For affluence the business model is static, marketing is by segment, and the customer is valued by what he/she owns. For influence on the other hand, the customer is valued for “what he/she is”, in a relationship with the brand where the business model is dynamic and personalised marketing is a must. Naturally, the digital medium will be decisive in this new context. Kantar-Connected Life’s research has strongly reintroduced the issue of consumer confidence in brands. For the 70,000 consumers interviewed, trust is judged in four different areas: technology, content, data and digital commerce. Scepticism is the most frequently collected data. Obviously in different proportions, given the magnitude of the survey range (56 different countries): while in Indonesia 61% of consumers rely on information from social media, only 14% of connected Italian consumers put their trust in content. Trust in big global brands is also shows a divide between emerging and developed markets. In China and Nigeria more than half of consumers (57% and 54%) have confidence in major global brands, but in mature markets such as the US and Italy this falls to 21% and 20%, respectively. In general, the confidence of European and US consumers in brands seems to be compromised by excessive online advertising pressure, while in Asia and Africa this is welcomed even when invasive. Privacy is a determining factor in the trust relationship and is rewarded at the expense of convenience: almost 60% of Italian and American consumers and 40% globally are concerned about their personal data being received by third parties. Moreover, 49% of consumers in Italy and 43% globally reject connected devices that monitor their activity, even if it makes the purchase process easier and more convenient. For brands, the goal is clear: to build, or reconstruct, a relationship of trust with the customer. To do this, it is necessary to understand why, when, how much and the right way to communicate. Transparency on the use of the personal data that they acquire will be decisive.