Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Emerging market consumers, including those in SA, have more trust in brands online than consumers in developed countries, according to the 2017 Connected Life study by Kantar TNS.

The study revealed that nearly one third of SA consumers consider the content that brands post on social media irrelevant and are concerned about social networks’ control of what users see in their feeds. A total of 39% of SA consumers are concerned about the amount of personal data brands have about them while 34% of them object to their lives being monitored by connected devices. Just 38% of consumers consider social media content to be reliable and only 36% trust large global brands.

The big take-out: Consumer trust is fragile and marketers should not take it for granted.

The study explored consumer trust in brands in four areas: technology, content, data and e-commerce.

While technology is allowing brands to develop better customer service experiences, it can erode consumer’s trust and confidence if poorly deployed. More than a third of SA consumers – 36% – are prepared to interact with a machine if their query is dealt with more quickly than via traditional routes.

The proliferation of fake news and brands releasing self-serving information has resulted in social media content being discredited and distrusted to a growing extent while consumers globally are increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles.

While South Africans have not rejected mobile ecommerce solutions, 40% don’t want to pay using their mobiles, indicating that there are still trust barriers to overcome.  Encouragingly, 31% would prefer to pay for everything using their mobile.

South Africans, says Karin du Chenne, CEO insights at Kantar SA, are still excited by the benefits and information they receive from brands in social media and the Internet. With most experiencing connectivity via their mobile phones – which makes it a more personal experience – they appreciate the benefits that targeted personalisation can bring and don’t experience the same levels of fear or distrust as their global counterparts in more developed nations. “The challenge for brands is to ensure they provide relevant, creative and engaging content to ensure they maintain this relationship of trust,” she says.

Global lead of connected solutions at Kantar TNS, Michael Nicholas, says the study has implications for every brand. “The most successful brands are typically those that are trusted by consumers. When trust is lost, it can be hugely damaging.  And while brands in emerging countries experience higher levels of consumer trust than those in developed countries, they shouldn’t take that for granted.”

To build and protect trust, he says, brands need to put the customer first – something many marketers have forgotten to do. This means understanding their motivations and the right moments to engage with them. Furthermore, they need to respect their time as valuable and be more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data.

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