Marketers are finding it difficult to connect with consumers in developed markets, as a new survey shows that over half of British, Japanese and American people are indifferent to many well-known brands.
Marketing agency Momentum Worldwide polled 6,504 consumers in nine countries – Australia, Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK and the USA – and found that consumers in those countries with long-established spending power felt less connected with brands than those in emerging markets.
When asked to classify their feelings towards well-known brands by types of interpersonal relationship – family member, friend, acquaintance or enemy – over half of respondents in the UK (54%) and Japan (55%) said they would not consider brands as any more than an acquaintance. US consumers were similarly distant (45%).
In contrast, respondents in emerging markets felt strong emotional connections to brands, particularly in the Philippines, where 70% said they would consider relationship with brands to be friendships or stronger. Of these, 56% saw brands as a family member.
This pattern was also evident in Latin America, where the equivalent figures for Mexico were 67% and 61%, and for Brazil 64% and 58%.
In the UK and Japan, just 15% and 13% respectively said they would think of brands as a family member.
Even more concerning than these figures, said Momentum Worldwide, was a decline in brand affection among young people. Globally, those who saw brands as the closest to them were in the 25–31 year old bracket with over a quarter (28%) of respondents considering them as a family member or a significant other. But this dropped by five points in the 18–24 age group.
"What we are seeing here is a critical case of brand fatigue for countries in which people have experienced a sustained and extensive exposure to brand messages," said Matthew Gidley, Director of Insight and Strategy at Momentum UK.
Consumer priorities in these markets were changing, he added, as brands were no longer regarded as status symbols. "Instead, [consumers] expect these brands to open up an honest and authentic dialogue upon which they can build their own stories," Gidley said.