Survey Says: Time to Cancel the Consumer

We recently asked 1,200 people what they want from the brands they do business with. The answer? A more personal relationship.

According to our survey, a growing number of Americans are tired of being viewed as consumers since that only speaks to a fraction of who they are. They have full lives and how your product or service fits in my life may be different than where it fits for someone else. So if marketers want to make real inroads with their audience they must find ways to connect that go beyond selling them stuff.   

In fact, more than 64% told us they prefer to do business with brands that understand them on a human level and cater to their personal needs. That number jumps to 72% with those 25-34 years old. Only 35% of respondents want to keep it all business and be treated like the average consumer.

For companies that strike that human connection with their audiences the result could mean a more enduring and profitable bond. 

Almost 77% of respondents told us they are willing to pay a premium for a brand that communicates with them on a personal level.  Additionally, nearly six in 10 people said they would  buy more products and services from the brands that reward loyalty, and nearly four in 10 said they would buy more from brands who are in a real relationship with them. 

Most people are already in a healthy relationship with at least one brand. That is especially true for 73% of males aged 25-54 years old and 62% of women 18-24.  

So what people are looking for in a brand relationship?

Brands looking to develop strong connections with their audience should focus heavily on trust, even ahead of convenience and product quality.

  • Being trustworthy and reliable were ranked the most important traits in the survey with 76% of those polled listing them as very important;
  • Providing excellent customer service: 70% said this is very important 
  • Ensuring superior product quality and innovation: 69% listed as very important 

The survey also revealed the impact of a brand’s approach to certain issues around social justice, health equity and the environment.  Overall, four in 10 adults ranked standing up for social or environmental issues as very important, but some audiences ranked it more important than others.  Sixty-one percent of women age 18-24 and 55% of men 18-54 found standing up for causes very important, while just 16% of men over 54 and 28% of women over 54 said it was very important. 

Income, age and gender do impact brand relationships

A relationship between a brand and its audience may also be influenced by additional factors related to a person’s income, age and gender. For instance, those who earn a higher income may find it more likely to establish a meaningful relationship with a brand, with 72% of adults who earn at least $100,000 reporting that to be true, compared to the 56% of respondents overall. An even greater disparity was found among gender with 73% of men between 25-54 saying they can have such a relationship, while only 52% of women in that age group feel the same.

Brands that prioritize  trust and human relationships are more likely to derive  information from their audiences. According to the survey, people who feel a connection with a brand are most comfortable providing basic information about themselves, including name (48%), email (51%) and birthday (52%), as well as personal tastes, like music (58%) and favorite hobbies (54%). They become less willing to share information like income (34%) and home address (37%), but even less willing to share any information if they don’t feel a connection with the brand. 

In the end, we think deeper, more profitable relationships with your audience start with a single concept. Cancel the consumer and instead unleash your brand’s human spirit.

For more information on the study, visit




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