Nigerians are not left out of the growing population of people around the world that are losing trust in global bodies and information sources, including social media, a world survey has revealed.
This is the key highlight of “The Truth About Global Brands 2: Powered by the Streets,” a new study conducted in 29 countries including Nigeria, where that is record of rising distrust.
According to the report, people around the world report an increasing preference for local culture and perspectives along with a rising distrust of global institutions and information sources, including social media.
But the research, by McCann Worldgroup’s Truth Central global intelligence unit, reveals surprisingly that positive attitudes towards global brands have remained high, with consumers believing that global brands can play a valuable role in contributing to local cultures.
McCann Worldgroup Truth Central launched its initial study, “The Truth About Global Brands,” in 2015. The new Global Brands follow-up study, which also incorporates findings from McCann’s Truth About Street initiative that sent all 20,000 of the agency network’s employees out last October to interview consumers, shows a rising cynicism and pessimism on both and institutional and individual basis.
Consumers around the world report sharply rising distrust in institutions—72% of people believe that global institutions like the World Bank and the UN don’t understand the needs of their country —and are generally more pessimistic and more distrustful of their own fellow citizens, the findings reveal.
Conversely, the study found that attitudes towards brands have not suffered from the same negativity affecting people’s overall views, and in fact represent a counterbalance to political and institutional distrust. The inaugural 2015 study showed that 82% of consumers on a global basis believed that global brands can play a powerful role for good in the world, which remained essentially the same (81%) in the 2018 study. They also maintain that global brands that contribute to their local culture and society are viewed with the same favorability.
At the same time, the conditions affecting brands have changed. A majority of consumers around the world (56%) say they now trust local brands over global brands—up sharply from 43% in 2015. This presents brands with both a strategic challenge and a great opportunity to connect with consumers in a meaningful way.
“The key takeaway about people’s attitudes on a global basis is that consumers still believe in the power of brands and companies to act in a positive way—and they in fact trust global brands and corporations more than institutions, political bodies or other organizations,” Suzanne Powers, Global Chief Strategy Officer of McCann Worldgroup says.
McCann Worldgroup coined the phrase “Deep Globality” to describe this phenomenon —”the awareness of and efforts to thoughtfully spread a brand, idea or movement…while actively enriching the receiving culture.”
Powers explained that for global brands to tap into this Deep Globality, “They must be mindful that they need to understand, respect and support every local culture where they operate—that they must, in fact, behave like local brands.”
The research in the TAGB2 study entailed interviews with 24,000 people in 29 countries, supplemented with qualitative research from McCann Worldgroup Truth Central’s massive 2017 study, the Truth About Street, in which McCann Worldgroup’s entire global network of 20,000+ employees took to the streets in more than 70 global markets over a 24-hour period to truly understand local culture.
Another critical data point, in the age where news sources are being challenged, is that consumers across the globe believe that “truth is the most valuable currency” in all conversations—public, private, across social media and anywhere in the economy. But on average, consumers believe they need to review five information sources in order to feel like they know “the truth” about any subject.
“This study provides a roadmap for global brands to follow,” India Wooldridge, Director, McCann Worldgroup Truth Central says. “Despite the tremendous upheavals in politics, economics and social media, consumers still see brands as conduits to change. In fact, they trust brands more than their own institutions. Brands can bring joy, happiness, change and meaning into the daily lives of consumers. Brands can bring about change for good in society. Brands can play an important role in cultural leadership. But they must act honestly and truthfully.”
The detailed findings in “Truth About Global Brands 2” showed generally a more wary attitude among consumers across the globe that can be divided into three broad categories:
- Local over global: Global brands continue to face hyper-local marketing pressure. While consumers increasingly trust what they perceive as local brands more than those seen as global, 72% of consumers are open to brands playing “a bigger role in society.” This includes opportunities for all brands to engage people in a hyper-local way by respecting local culture, helping people get access to products and services on the local level, providing jobs in markets where they operate/are sold, and operating sustainable businesses.
- The erosion of trust: Consumers question everything in their lives today. Most people agree that the number one thing that would make CEOs and politicians better at their jobs is “if they had a better understanding of ordinary people like me.”
- The empathy gap: Intolerance and pessimism are rising; more people are “retreating” and becoming more selfish. However, while intolerance and pessimism are on the rise in all regions, people unexpectedly report being more positive about their personal lives.
According to Powers and Wooldridge, the TAGB2 research also contains perspectives and guidelines for global brand marketers on how to remain effective in reaching consumers around the world even as people embrace preferences that are more local.
- Despite rising levels of distrust about global brands vs. local brands, brands still maintain a relative position of trust—in part because trust in institutions has dropped to historically low levels. People still have double the amount of trust in corporations than in politicians.
- The rise in intolerance among groups provides brands with a powerful opportunity to serve as a bridge across the empathy gap.
- The world is becoming more diverse. And diversity is a broader concept than is commonly understood. Diversity can mean very different things to different people, depending on the country, culture and context, amongst multiple other variables.
- Modern brands can learn from local brands and behave in ways that engage and increase trust.
- Powerful ideas that bridge cultures can spread the appeal of a brand if it actively enriches the “receiving” cultures.
- Only brands that truly understand the granular, local reality of a culture can connect with its people.