Consumers Hungry for Brand Stories

An October 2012 survey by Edelman Berland and Adobe found that American consumers are looking for deeper brand engagement than banner ads and social media “like” buttons. 73% of the 1000 adults surveyed agreed with the statement, “Advertisements should tell a unique story, not just try to sell.”

Marketers are probably shaking their heads back and forth right now, thinking, “But we have been telling you stories all along!” Perhaps, but the beauty of story is in the eye of the beholder. Clearly, many customers are not feeling engaged and immersed in the brand stories they’re currently hearing. They’re hungry to connect with other users and share their experiences, whether positive or negative. Confident brands that can get comfortable with this loss of control are likely to move ahead, I believe.

The shift in preference from one-way broadcast to two-way dialogue appears to continue. Consumers are expressing eagerness to have conversations directly with brands and other consumers. The study authors noted that, “While professional advertising is the most effective form of advertising, user-generated content is increasingly appealing.” It’s not enough anymore to simply tell a story; it must be unique to the brand and trigger further stories and emotional engagement from customers.

How do you interpret these survey results? Do marketers need to spend more time figuring out the specific stories that make their brand unique? Or do these survey results simply indicate consumers telling the poll takers what they think they want to hear?

The details: Research firm Edelman Berland conducted an online survey, “The State of Online Advertising” with 1,250 adults, 18 years or older, including 1,000 general population and 250 Marketing Decision Makers, each in the U.S. Interviewing took place from October 8th –16th, 2012. Study results published here.

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