A Matter of Relevance (& Trust)

26 Sep,2017


By A Correspondent

GolinOpinion, the PR division of PointNine Lintas, released its first marketing product, Relevance India. At an event in Mumbai last week, Fred Cook, Global Chairman, Golin unveiled the Relevance framework which is being rolled out globally. The research was conducted in 13 markets, including India, covering over 13,000 respondents. The first round of data from the study indicates that in the battle for relevance, truth is having a moment of truth. Golin’s global research focused on three categories that touch billions of lives every day: social media, personal banking and automotive.

After three years of research, in partnership with the USC Annenberg School for Journalism and

Communications, Golin’s study in four continents including India, uncovered what drives relevance for categories and brands across the globe. The survey population encompassed millennials (18-34), Gen-x (35-54) and boomers (55+).

The India data, that covered three categories, threw up some interesting aspects:

People around the world believe that their ideal brand would deliver on being trustworthy (ethical, moral, honest and truthful. However according to the research, study the reality tells a different story. Of the most relevant brands studied, 0% met the ideal when it came to being trustworthy; while people are seeking it, leading brands aren’t seen as relevant. 91% of the most relevant brands studied exceed the expectation when it comes to being popular. This is a part of a major shift.

Having lost faith in brands and institutions, people are looking to each other, to their trusted tribes – friends, family, advocates and influencers – for validation in the choices they are making. Popularity isn’t a frivolous, fleeting dimension. Talkability means putting a premium on the people who will vouch for and recommend your brand.

Within the three categories studied it was found that social media category, research found that people don’t need truth; they want to be entertained. People prefer local banking over global – and since all banks are under-delivering on the ideal, unique relevance drivers in this category have emerged. And the automotive category struggles to have a breakout relevance brand leader.

An ideal banking brand in India is Trustworthy, Effective and Transparent. As with other categories, respondents scored brands very similarly to one another, though SBI scores higher against the ideal and exceeds expectations on Essential and Popular. None other bank in 12 other countries, where the research was done, scored so high on trust.

The automotive sector which covered global brands, shows Honda as a clear Relevance leader in India, followed by a close competition between Toyota and Ford. Nissan has low relevance, while Fiat is barely known. In India, an “ideal” automotive brand is Trustworthy, Effective, Authentic and Innovative. However, there is little difference in how consumers score each brand.

Social media is a highly-relevant category overall in India, with Facebook and YouTube ranking at the top in relevance. Local channel Hike is less relevant than global channels.

Meanwhile, the macro global trends included:

Screens win out over people

> Social media (59%) and television (57%) consistently ranked first and second above “word of mouth from friends and family” (45%) as the most relevant sources of news and information

Word of mouth sees gender differences

> Word of mouth from friends and family is more relevant to women (50%) than men (39%)

People are drawn to pragmatic and funny

> The top characteristics of information people found relevant were useful/practical (54%), informative (53%), and funny (35%), beating out others like inspiring, shocking and exciting

The one dimension that is currently driving relevance across all categories is popularity: being talked about and recommended by others showing that talkability trumps truth.

Speaking about the findings at the event, Cook said: “Relevance is what attracts and keeps people paying attention to what brands have to say and moves them to act. This is something that we, as marketers and communicators, can directly impact. We’ve been studying, and perfecting the art of analysing relevance for years because we understand that it is the most important measurement of a brand. Our research indicates that despite people being continually let down by the perceived trustworthiness and truthfulness of brands, they continue to buy their products and services.”

Speaking of the India launch, Vikas Mehta, CEO, PointNine Lintas, said: “Finding a unified metric that can measure the impact of multiple marketing initiatives is one of the biggest challenges today’s marketers face. In Relevance, I believe GolinOpinion has found a viable choice that replaces data analysis with data analytics. It’s a great way for any brand to find out where they stand vs. competition, locally or globally.”

Added Ameer Ismail, Chief Growth officer, PointNine Lintas and President GolinOpinion: “As the landscape changes rapidly and as brand managers or communication professionals it is extremely important to have data based insights to decide the interventions that are important for the brand and its agency partners. This is tool is designed to give brands an edge.” Developmental work on the study is being done in Chicago and Mumbai, to further improve functionalities of the tool including real-time data integration.

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