The Art of Conversation: How brands can embrace the conversations that matter most

The Art of Conversation: How brands can embrace the conversations that matter most

M&C Saatchi TALK unveils its latest research report, The Art of Conversation, the findings from which reveal that 40% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that speaks about issues that matter to them. The report demonstrates public perceptions of, and the shifts in audience attitudes towards, brands and their place in conversations.

Post-pandemic, conversations have never been more important as audiences seek to both reconnect with the world and re-evaluate priorities. Ultimately, it’s essential for brands to understand what audiences are thinking, feeling, believing, and what really matters to them to truly connect with them and make meaningful impact.

M&C Saatchi TALK surveyed 1,000 nationally representative consumers to unveil attitudes towards brands, and the characteristics of conversation that make a brand more shareable, memorable and trustworthy. These findings, combined with expert opinion from senior marketeers and audience thought leaders, allowed the business to identify the subjects driving audience conversations, how these develop, and the key places they’re taking place.

The report shares a deeper understanding of how brands can successfully navigate and earn a place in those that matter most and do so earnestly and authentically. This is incredibly valuable as the requirement to navigate conversations and understand those that matter most to achieve their business ambitions—at speed—has never been greater.

Creating brand conversations that matter.

Since March 2020, over half (52%) of all respondents say their attitudes towards brands have changed. 

At a pivotal time when brands are coming under increased scrutiny, audiences actively want them to speak on meaningful issues, and will share relevant conversations with those closest to them—family, friends, and colleagues.

Further still, when assuming price and quality are equal, as many as 40 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy from the brands that speak on issues that matter to them. 

The research reveals the three most consistently important topics across nine sectors—climate change, sustainability, and health & wellness. 

Failure to embrace these conversations means brands risk customers going elsewhere. However, care and consideration of the diversity of audiences, and their needs, are required to connect with them genuinely and meaningfully.

Essentially, brands need to marry their audience truths—what people think, feel, and do—with brand truths, their ownable and distinctive advantage, and cultural catalysts. In other words, why it matters now and why it is relevant for media.

Lawrence Christensen, head of marketing, brands at Marks & Spencer, spoke with M&C Saatchi TALK: “If the conversation between a brand and a customer is authentic, and if that brand has something relevant and genuine to contribute, then I believe consumers are more likely to engage, purchase and to stay loyal.”

Ensuring brand conversations are heard.

M&C Saatchi TALK’s report also highlights how the various dimensions of conversations can play a role at different stages in a customer journey. For example, looking at awareness, to be more ‘shareable’ nearly two thirds (61%) of consumers say brand conversations should be more ‘supportive’, ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘inclusive’.

Author, journalist, presenter, and contributor to the report, Chloe Combi demonstrates this further, “It comes back to showing and not just telling. Timpson’s work with ex-offenders and its genuine commitment to fair pay (has) really struck a chord with this age group. It wasn’t performative, it spoke to a generation keen to work for them and to learn about their ethics.”

However, interestingly M&C Saatchi TALK also discovered that the most memorable conversations are often directly linked to humour, with 25% of consumers citing “funny” as the top attribute. At a time when consumers are craving laughter, humour can be a powerful tool in driving brand consideration when used in the right way.

Leading brand conversations that drive meaningful change.

Of course, conversations don’t happen in silos between a brand and a customer. People rely on an extended network of family, friends, media, and influencers to assess which brands to buy. With 60 per cent of consumers saying their family has the greatest influence on their purchasing decisions, brands must start by entering cultural conversations that matter to their audiences.

It’s also vital for brands to understand which audiences hold the most influence in an individual’s decisions, and the nuances between them. However, it’s equally as important to identify influential voices within the business—brands must have the right voices in the room in order to connect with the right audiences externally.

As Saif Islam, chief strategy officer at Creed & Culture, co-founder of the Muslim Influencer Network, and report contributor emphasises, these efforts must be long-term and considerate of those consulted in the process. “There’s a marked difference between organisations that desire inclusion purely for the business case, and those who pursue it as a moral case. Brands that genuinely believe it’s the right thing to do, want to give a voice to different perspectives, and hold a deeper and more persistent idea of inclusion and diversity are those that see increased market share over time.”

Download the report here.

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