Brands seen as greater change agents than governments, Edelman study says

This is the birth of Brand Democracy; as consumers are electing brands as their change agents.   File photo

The power of a brand to sway consumers is up nearly 13 percent over last year, according to research from Daniel J. Edelman Inc.

Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand report, a survey of 8,000 consumers, found 64 percent of respondents would respond to a brand’s stance on a social or political issue. These “belief-driven” consumers, found as majorities in the U.S., Japan, the United Kingdom and Germany, rank brands above governments for their ability to change society.

Richard Edelman, the firm’s president and CEO, said the power of branding marks a “new relationship” between a company and its customer, according to a press release.

“This is the birth of Brand Democracy; as consumers are electing brands as their change agents,” he said. “Brands are now being pushed to go beyond their classic business interests to become advocates.”

The study found that a message about a company’s values was equally effective as a message about a product’s features in terms of triggering a decision to buy. The power of such values-based communication suggests companies can no longer afford to espouse values to their customers.

“It’s no longer a question of whether to, but how to take a stand,” Amanda Glasgow, Edelman's U.S. chair, Brand, said in the release. “A brand must understand its audience and think long term so that the stand it chooses authentically connects its values to its customers.”

Named one of Advertising Age’s Agencies to Watch, Edelman describes itself as a public relations and marketing firm with worldwide reach, helping clients “evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations.”

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