Environmental commitment, social utility, proximity and commitment... Today's consumers expect much more from brands than a simple commercial relationship and are no longer satisfied with an ethical posture on their part...
While the need for meaning is taking hold on a long-term basis, the sharp rise in environmental concerns is disrupting everyone's expectations.
From now on, for every third Frenchman, companies and their brands must make a concrete commitment to society and/or the environment.
Another lesson is that proximity to the brand (geographical or psychological) becomes decisive.
The environmental issue changes everything
The Observatoire du Sens reveals this year that for 78% of French people, environmental problems represent the main threat for the future.
Based on this observation, the aspirations of the French were analysed by taking up the 4 typologies already identified in 2018 in order to observe their evolution.
It is clear that environmental protection and social responsibility are changing expectations of brands.
The Engaged (33%, +4 pts): they value the collective and tend to give brands and companies a role of change in society. The environment is for them the main threat for the future. They therefore expect brands to embody an ethic and an awareness of the challenges of the planet (e.g. Nature & Découvertes)
The Rooted (24%, +4 pts): more popular category than the Engaged, the environment is also an important issue for them, linked to the protection of heritage, traditions, "terroir". They see globalization as a threat to cultures and identities. Geographical and psychological proximity is therefore essential (e.g. Barilla).
The Skeptics (22%, -4 pts): they expect brands to have practical and concrete missions, so that they are effective in satisfying expressed needs and in customer relations (e.g. Uber)
The Liberals (21%, - 4 pts): they want brands to be economically useful. The change of society can only be achieved through the ability of brands to reinvent themselves and innovate (e.g. Google).
Sense, a fundamental need for more than 1 in 2 French people
As in the previous year, 56% of French people think that giving meaning to what we do and to life in general is increasingly important.
This is particularly the case for young people aged 18-24 (74%) and managers (65%).
This need is expressed both at the collective level, with an idea of preserving what has been acquired or passing on the value of know-how, to preserve one's family and friendly circle; but also at the individual level with a desire for personal emancipation and fulfilment.
It appears that the French identify 4 values that carry meaning for them: family (48%), respect for people (42%), freedom (35%) and respect for the environment (32%).
It should be noted that the latter two have seen significant increases compared to 2018 with +4 and +6 pts respectively.
How to give meaning to your brand?
The Observatoire du Sens made it possible to identify the 3 fundamentals of meaning:
Meaning: its history, its identity, but also its primary mission and responsibilities. Above all, a brand must have a clear and readable anchor for all.
Inspiration: or the vision of the future proposed by the brand or company. That is its raison d'être, it is also the societal contract, provided, of course, that this proposal is borne out in practice.
The Relationship: it is a dimension of meaning that is often overlooked. However, it is the quality and frequency of the brand's communication with its various audiences that really gives it meaning.
Companies must also ensure that they meet the essential values for the French, among which are quality (43%), know-how (42%) and team spirit (27%).
A meaningful brand must first meet the classic requirements of a responsible and reliable company before it can disrupt the market.
In this respect, the relationship, through the social and environmental responsibilities of companies, is becoming more and more essential...