WE Communications this week launched ‘Brands in Motion’ an annual global study on ‘Escalating Consumer Expectations Push Brands To Deliver On Innovation, Ethical Responsibility And Functionality’. India, with 3,950 respondents, took part in the 6 nation study for the first time and the results are interesting.
Function over purpose
One of the biggest findings of the study is that India customers prefer brands that show a preference for high functional use in their products rather than high purpose. As the graph below shows just 3% of the respondents showed a preference for brands with high purpose, as opposed to 51% preferring brands whose products are very functional. On the other hand, when it came to preferring both function and purpose, the average is fairly high at 46%.
Indian customers expect high levels of innovation from brands
Technology-based innovation has become so all-pervasive that Indian customers expect a very high level of innovation from brands. 60% of Indian respondent for this survey, said they expect brands to use innovation to offer more environment-friendly and sustainable products.
The data revealed that consumers in India and worldwide continue to demand innovation — but now, in response to increasing technology-based fears, they’re attaching strong new stipulations to these expectations, chief among them the requirement that brands use technology ethically and responsibly.
“We are seeing some compelling year-over-year shifts in customer attitudes,” said Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO of WE Communications. “Consumers continue to have high expectations for brands to use innovative technologies, but most are afraid of how those same technologies might disrupt their lives. These fears are causing consumers to demand greater accountability from brands."
AI, automation and personal data
One of the questions the survey asked what were the key impact areas of AI. For Indian consumers, there were two big fears, of losing their jobs to AI and of loss of personal data. The fear of losing jobs was particularly strong in India with 69% of respondents fearing loss of work due to AI.
According to WE, globally consumers have been shaken by recent technology scandals and are anxious about the promises of unprecedented innovation. A whopping 94 per cent of international said that if brands can’t use technology ethically, then governments should step in. Consumers are giving brands an ultimatum: Self-regulate or be regulated.
Consumers in India have a strong rational and emotional brand reaction
The report also reveals that consumers in India have a strong rational and emotional engagement with brands, which makes it difficult for brands to be a 'mover' in India, a mover brand is one that manages to stay relevant with the expectations of the brands. With a high demand for both function and love or purpose, that becomes a challenging expectation to fulfil for India. The surprising exception to the rule here have been categories such as 'Smart Homes', B2B tech and automobiles with tech which Indian customers are very enthusiastic about.