The last session on Day 2 “Building brands in trust deficit world” saw a panel of esteemed speakers explore ways of how to build trust-worthy brands. Moderated by Deepa Prahalad, author & business strategist, the panel comprised Robin Wight, president, Engine and WCRS; Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, South Asia, Group M; Michael Boneham, president & MD, Ford India and Sandeep Ghosh, CEO, Bharti AXA Life Insurance.
Citing two examples, Vigil outside Apple after Steve Jobs death and Occupy Wall Street movement, Prahalad started the conversation by saying that the parameters of trust have undergone a transformation. “It is not that brands have become untrustworthy; the drivers of brand value have changed,” she said. “It is no longer about status and exclusivity. Consumers are looking for openness, honesty, integrity and brands that can build communities. It is about Apple saying no to Apps for pornography or Tata taking care of each and every employee after 26/11.”
According to Wight, traditionally strong brands required less brain effort from consumers and purchase decisions were quick. However, with consumers now inundated with a host of parity products across categories which are resulting in cacophony, consumers have developed the ‘web’ to make those decisions for them. They depend on their friends online to suggest, rate, critique brands and make their choices accordingly. Thus, brands need to develop a very strong peer-to-peer marketing strategy in order to earn consumers’ trust, said Wight.
With the financial sector taking a heavy beating in the last few years, especially in the trust department, Ghosh changed the communication for the company’s life insurance product from happy faces to proof-led advertising. “Piggybacking on traditional advertising methods, we ran campaigns which gave consumers the assurance that their money was safe with us and will be returned without delay. Our sales have gone up the roof and we see a lot of consumer trust being put on the brand, he said.”
Ford, on the other hand, moved away from the clichéd celebrity-led car advertising and put real consumers into their 360-degree campaigns for the recent launches – Figo and Fiesta in India. “People want real testimonials and not a commercial push anymore,” said Boneham.
Sakhuja urged the marketers from moving away from constantly building their market place equity based on price, distribution and sales and concentrate more on creating a psychological equity for their brands as the latter is what helps brands tide over tough times. Giving Nokia’s example, he said that while the mobile major faced very tough competition from the Chinese hand-set makers and saw its market share drop significantly, once it made amends in its offerings the consumers came rushing back due to its very strong psychological equity.
“Humility and honesty are the two most important ways to build trust-worthy brands,” said Sakhuka. “Do not talk down to your consumers.”