CMOs, Here’s How Innovation Could Be Driving Away Your Customers: Study29 September, 2015 / Articles
CMOs are under the gun to drive corporate innovation efforts as never before. Marketing innovation, product innovation, even organizational innovation all are tops on their agendas. Indeed, continually offering the new, investing in tech-driven marketing innovation and taking risks in an effort to most productively engage with today’s multiplatform, fickle and opinionated consumer is an expected goal of marketing leadership.
But what if that innovation is falling on deaf, or worse, suspect ears? What if consumers are intimidated by such rapid change and new products?
In fact, while 92% on consumers globally believe innovation is core to society’s progress, 87% of them say concerns about innovations’ impact on privacy, the environment and their security will stop them from purchasing new products, according to Edelman’s new global consumer study, Innovation and the Earned Brand.
In particular, consumers are wary of the risk to personal and societal safety. Privacy is the biggest concern globally, cited by 66% of respondents, and is strongest in Germany (76%), the U.S. (75%) and Australia (74%). The environmental impact is the next biggest concern globally, according to 58% of respondents. Security is worrisome for 54% of respondents globally.
Nine in 10 agree that brand innovation needs to impact society, with 69 percent agreeing that it should improve society. However, two-thirds indicate that business-led innovation is motivated primarily by the desire to make more money. And Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer last January found that more than half of consumers believe innovation is happening too quickly.
And what about all of those upgrades? Two-in-three respondents indicated they become bored or frustrated by the repeated need to upgrade their products.
Meanwhile, 60 percent say manipulations in advertisements leave them unsure of what to believe. That’s tough for marketers who invest so heavily in “inspiring” messages to hear.
“According to our data, it’s not working very well because [marketers are] trying to inspire without reassuring,” said Richard Edelman, CEO of public-relations firm Edelman.
“For me the first order of business is to reassure. If you’re going to reassure you have to reassure in a way that’s credible,” he said, adding that brands have become “too American, too brash.”
Without reassurance coming from marketers, consumers turn to peers for reassurance about their concerns over innovation. That’s one of the reasons why peer influence has become stronger than ever—and even YouTube stars, considered peers by Millennials and GenZ—have risen in popularity and trust. At the same time, the study found, consumers expect marketers to provide vehicles for that peer-to-peer discussion too; 64% are more trusting of brands that do so.
Edelman cites the sharing economy, while a good development, as “the tip of the spear” and one of the reasons for consumers’ increased skepticism of innovation and need for reassurance from marketers, but these issues apply to “any company involved in developing new products,” he said.
Marketers are going to have to make an investment in long-term relationship building, not just demand building, he added, and that will require structural changes at the top. “A lot of times marketing is done in the absence of the communications people. And it should be together. It’s the chief communications officer and the chief marketing officer, has to be.”