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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : March 05, 2007

New-media winners endear consumers with transparency, trust and generosity

There has been a shift in consumer values when it comes to branding and brand messages. Nowadays consumers want more honest, authentic relationships based on trust, self expression and connections, so stop selling and start building relationships.

by Helen Leggatt

pgcom_logo_top.gif“Generous brands” will be the new-media winners, said Jim Stengel, global marketing officer at P&G in his AAAA conference speech. The term, first coined by Fitch Branding in a 2005 report, describes those companies that openly engage with their consumers via reviews, forums, social sites and positive actions taken on their behalf.

"We're getting much more comfortable with the idea that consumers truly own our brands and our brand messages," Stengel said. "It may be a little scary for us to 'let go,' but in the end we must realize that what people say about our brands is valued far more than what we say...At P&G, we're learning that if we want to engage people with our branding message it has to be on their terms.”

He went on to detail the major changes in consumer values such as craving trust through transparency, wanting self expression to be incorporated in to branding messages and seeking connections. Many companies still shy away from giving too much control to their consumers in the knowledge that not all interaction is flattering. A prime example being GM’s Chevy Tahoe video contest which drew less flattering entrants which, to GM’s credit, they did not remove from the contest site. Transparency and trust do not go hand in hand with heavily moderating user-generated content.

In the consumer’s eyes brand generosity will be defined by a brand's attitude as much as its actions. P&G’s tagline appears to sum it all up – “Touching Lives, Improving Life”.

Tags: branding, consumer-generated media, customer reviews, General Motors, generous brands, user-generated

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