Today’s connected world is driving a ‘consumer trust divide’ between suspicious minds in developed nations and more accepting attitudes in emerging countries, according to Kantar TNS’s latest Connected Life research.
Kantar TNS surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries and conducted 104 in-depth interviews as part of the 2017 Connected Life study. The research explored consumer trust in brands in relation to four themes: technology, content, data, and e-commerce. The findings show that while European and US consumers’ trust in brands is being undermined by the poor deployment of advertising and content, consumers in countries across Asia, Middle East and Africa, in contrast, appear to be embracing brand content and messaging though concerns on privacy remain.
The findings also show that many consumers are choosing privacy over convenience, preferring a greater say in decisions that impact them even if that means compromising on speed or ease.
- 53% of Nigerian consumers consider the content brands post on social media relevant
- One in three Nigerians (28%) are concerned about social networks control over what users see in their feeds
- 40% of consumers globally are concerned about the level of personal data brands have on them, this is not very far from the ratings in Nigeria at 32%
Commenting on the findings, Stephen Hillebrand, CEO, Kantar Insights Middle East & North Africa said: “In our connected world, the notion of ‘truth’ has come under increasing pressure. Given this, the default for many consumers is suspicion, not acceptance. The level of suspicion differs starkly depending on where you are in the world. In developed countries, the erosion of trust has been much more dramatic – driven by consumer experience with new technology, online content, usage of personal data, and ecommerce. In contrast, overall trust levels in Middle East & Africa are relatively high – giving regional brands an opportunity.”
“Today, all companies are challenged by the key question of how can they build and maintain trust and authenticity in this rapidly-changing world. Trust is one of the most profound consumer beliefs regarding the efficacy and reliability of a brand, and takes significant time to cultivate. Among the most valuable brands in the world, higher trust levels equate with higher brand values, proving that trust is a crucial ingredient in brand success.
Connected Life explored consumer trust in brands in four areas:
• Trust in technology
The rapid evolution of technology is enabling brands to develop better, smoother customer service experiences, but poor deployment or a failure to meet basic needs can erode consumers’ trust and confidence in brands. This year’s findings showed connected consumers are polarised in their acceptance of artificial intelligence. 43% of connected consumers in MEA are willing to interact with a machine (such as a chatbot) if their query is dealt with more quickly. This has huge implications for the pace at which companies automate customer functions, as well as the moments at which they do so. This year’s findings also showed that while advances in technology aim to make consumers’ lives simpler and easier, people feel increasingly distracted and harassed by it: one third (32%) of 16-24 year olds in the region think they use their mobile phones too much.
• Trust in content
Many brands rely on social media platforms to reach consumers quickly and easily but this year’s research shows that content on those channels is increasingly discredited and distrusted by consumers, with fake news and self-serving information impacting their confidence in what they’re reading. Nearly a quarter of consumers in MEA find the content brands post on social media channels irrelevant. Furthermore, there is a high and growing level of distrust in social media platforms, with half (50%) of North American and French consumers expressing concern about social networks’ control of what users see in their feeds. Yet those findings contrast sharply with developing Asian markets like Indonesia and the Philippines, in which just 8% and 12%, respectively, expressed concern.
• Trust in data
When it comes to data, people are becoming increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange. 35% of MEA consumers respondents expressed concern about the amount of personal data that companies have on them, but it was especially high in some markets: almost three-quarters (72%) of Polish consumers are concerned – more than any other nation – and the majority of consumers in the United States (60%) and South Korea (59%) share that view. However, concerns are much lower in other markets, including Nigeria (32%), China (30%) and Indonesia (22%), where consumers have more transactional expectations from brands (for example, rewards in exchange for data).
• Trust in ecommerce
There has been a large increase in brands offering social commerce options to consumers, whether mobile shopping services and the ability to purchase through social media platforms. New technologies such as ‘buy buttons’ and mobile payments are making ecommerce more frictionless than ever, but many consumers are failing to see the benefits. While 64% of consumers in China would prefer to pay for everything using their mobile, we see that consumers in the MEA region are much less likely to embrace mobile payments. For example, 47% of connected consumers in the UAE, don’t want to pay for anything with their mobile. This means that while half of online population in UAE prefers to pay for everything using their mobile, the key will be to break the mobile payment barriers for another half.