Here’s How Brands Today Can Make a Positive Impact on Their Customers


The pandemic has created a shift in consumer mindsets. Customers who are now chiefly online are more engaged with the brands that they follow, and as the 2021 Havas Meaningful Brands Report shows, many feel that these brands have fallen short of their expectations.

The Havas Meaningful Brands project — now on its ninth year of producing powerful insights for brands and brand marketers — surveyed 395,000 consumers around the world and found that cynicism is at an all-time high: less than half of brands are seen as trustworthy (47%). A surprising 71% have also said that they have little faith that brands will deliver on their promises.

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Despite this cynicism, consumers are desperately seeking brands that will make a meaningful difference – with 73% saying brands must act now for the good of society and the planet and 64% of people – an increase of 10 percentage points since 2019 – say they prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit.

Mark Sinnock, Global Chief Strategy Officer of the Havas Creative Group explains, “This year’s report shows us that consumers have entered an ‘age of cynicism’. They are surrounded by what they perceive as empty or broken promises –at all levels of our society –and we are starting to see the impact of this mistrust on brands.”

Given that, how can brands make a positive impact on their customers? Here are some suggestions:

Lend a helping hand

The pandemic has become an opportunity for brands to reach out to communities and show support to people in times of crisis. This is expected by 77% of the respondents, with this past year bringing an increase in expectations in three specific areas: more connection, more care for the planet, and more monetary savings and growth.

Be inclusive

The global situation has likewise awakened a mentality that focuses on Oneness. Gen Z, which has grown up connected to the world via the internet, is not afraid to question the status quo. They seek individuality and at the same time expect inclusion. This generation is particularly focused on reducing inequalities across areas including race, sexuality, and opportunity and has more love for brands that take a lead on social issues and embrace diversity.

Be helpful

With more people staying home and connected online, the internet has become a vehicle for helpful content as consumers figure out how to navigate their personal new normal. It is important to note, however, that almost half (48%) of all content provided by brands is judged not to be meaningful to consumers.

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Havas Ortega chairman and CEO Jos Ortega adds that Gen Z is more empowered as a stakeholder in their future. He shares, “They are more than capable of letting themselves be heard, through the power of their pockets and their social-media enabled voices. This can be seen not only in the push for new voters to register, but also in their demand for brands to be more meaningful, more authentic, and more responsible.”

To see more information and insights about the 2021 Havas Meaningful Brands report, visit