Expectations surrounding products and services aren’t just rising, consumers are also demanding more accountability from brands.

According to the second edition of WE Communications’ Brands in Motion study, consumers expect technology will improve their lives, but at the same time high levels of distrust mean they also want brands to use technology ethically and responsibly.

Globally, 98 per cent of respondents said they now place responsibility squarely on brands to use technology ethically while continuing to drive customer-centric innovation. If brands can’t use technology ethically, 96 per cent agreed governments should step in and introduce regulation.

Kristin Flor Perret, Senior Vice President of Marketing, WE Communications
Kristin Flor Perret, Senior Vice President of Marketing, WE Communications

In the words of Kristin Flor Perret, Senior Vice President of Marketing, WE Communications: Innovation, say hello to ethics.

“For a long time there has been a very powerful tech halo and there has been a love affair with tech,” Flor Perret told Which-50.

“We are seeing in the survey that the tech halo is still strong, but paired with the consumer fear [of data misuse] and the need for security, brands need to pair their rock-solid functionality with an ethical use of technology.”

The global survey of more than 25,000 consumers and B2B decision makers across eight countries including Australia, identified brands now need to navigate a world where consumers are more polarised than ever before.

“In just 12 months we’ve seen some interesting shifts in consumer brand perceptions,” said Gemma Hudson, Managing Director of WE Buchan.

“Despite 2018 providing Australians with many reasons to distrust technology, including media controversy stemming from the Notifiable Data Breach Scheme and introduction of the electronic health records, we continue to expect that brands will use technology to improve our lives. But this expectation is conditional, with nearly all Australians demanding greater accountability from brands.”

According to Flor Perret consumers are more aware of issues around data misuse and are demanding brands live up to the expectation they will keep their data secure.

That means ethical uses of technology isn’t just something brands ‘should do’ but something they ‘must do’, she said.

That’s something that can’t be bolted on to a business because it has to be built at the core in terms of their business practices.”

“A lot of businesses are taking a long hard look at what is is that they are doing and they don’t want to be the brand that’s going to be in the headlines.”

Flor Perret noted that consumers will “love you today and shame you tomorrow depending on what you do.”

The takeaway for brands is they need to be able to tell three strong stories around functionality, ethics and purpose.

“Brands need to be more agile and really be able to tell that core functionality story. They also have to be able to tell that story about ethics and they have to be able to tell that story about purpose.”

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