How does Australia’s trust in brands compare to the US and why you should care

Wil Wylie • 5 min read

Companies sometimes use predictions to push new ideas and to sound relevant. In truth, the four main digital trends are already well-known. These trends, however, have experienced notable growth here in Australia. But is the new use of technology bridging gaps with customers or, are are our brands spiralling down with the US brand studies?

Although data, content, and digital disruption are all very valuable subjects, it’s important to note that the following four of the top trends are intrinsic to brand power.

1. Ethical artificial intelligence

As artificial intelligence in Australia continues to grow in its application and relevance, it’s also becoming more responsible. Having once taken a “move fast and break things” approach, AI is now responding to privacy concerns raised by the likes of Google and Facebook. Technology giants such as IBM and Microsoft are incorporating AI ethics into their corporate branding, data science, and engineering values. According to Accenture, over half of all global enterprises have set up ethical review committees for their AI developments.

2. “Fake wokeness” continues to flop

With companies continuing to engage in social activism, young customers have become very wise to the fakers. Indeed, most social media users can see just how many brands are employing this tool. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer figures over in the US, trust in American companies dropped to 50% last year. This marks a 5% drop since the previous year and a total drop of 11% since 2014.

If brands fail to hit the mark with millennials, they should expect their “fake wokeness” to suffer a swift, powerful response. In the US, examples can be seen in the strong criticisms received by Audi’s fake concern about pay equity, Dodge’s manipulation of Martin Luther King’s words, and Pepsi’s appropriation of Black Lives Matter. While social activism may be a positive move for brands, actions speak louder than words; customers need convincing.

3. Customers want to connect

One of our clients asked us to forecast their typical customer profile for 2025. The research available find in Australia showed that, in an ever-more digital universe, people are becoming increasingly lonely. A survey conducted by Cigna (a global health services organisation) found that around 50% of all Australians are lonely; this is particularly true for those aged between 25 and 29. What’s more, the majority of young people believe that nobody knows them very well. Possibly the rising investment in mental health initiatives throughout all Australian states and territories.

In the US, where the lack of community feeling is similar to Australia’s social state, some brands have identified this growing isolation and are doing their best to combat it. Known as the “clicks to bricks movement”, an increasing number of large online stores are launching physical retail locations. Examples include Allbirds, Warby Parker, and Amazon.

There is also a wave of non-typical brands pushing new concepts of community. For instance, the hit video game Fortnite is now the largest online sport in the world. Why? Simply because Epic gets it; it understands that young people crave human connection. Alongside this success, Fortnite is also setting new viewing records, hooking its popular players up with celebrities such as Drake.

4. Brand purpose is power

Brand experts over the last half decade have rightly forecasted that brand purpose would come to the fore. More than the last few years, we feel it’s now showing even more of an influence. According to a Havas Group Meaningful Brands Report in the US, the last decade saw meaningful brands outperform the stock market by over 200%. Surveying 300,000 people, Havas found that 75% of consumers expect brands to enhance their lifestyle and wellbeing. While brands don’t need to engage in huge social missions to have brand purpose, any purpose does need to be relevant and relatable.

Conclusion

Although we may have seen these key trends before, they’re all becoming much more important. As brands seek to strengthen their purpose, brand experiences are simultaneously shifting.

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