The impacts of the pandemic are being felt even in purchasing behavior. According to the survey, “The French, brand engagement and loyalty”, carried out by OpinionWay for “Les Echos” and Salesforce, it appears that 63% of people questioned are more attentive to the commitments of companies since the outbreak of the health crisis.
“There is a peak in the need for solid, unambiguous commitment: the French are looking for new ‘infallibilities’ and, above all, for sincerity,” analyzes sociologist Ronan Chastellier who led the study, adding that brands have no choice but to prove their involvement. “It is as if moral neutrality towards social problems becomes a commercial handicap,” he says.
Another lesson from this study is that 71% of those surveyed say they are more loyal to brands whose values they espouse, such as solidarity, open-mindedness, environmental protection, etc. “The use of values reassures”, underlines Ronan Chastellier. And the sociologist explains that “the adequacy of these values creates not only adhesion, but a complicity and loyalty: from the moment when a company shares certain values, it reaches a higher representation and becomes a more object. absolute, compared to others ”.
With the deceptive masks
Confirming that the Covid-19 has confused the cursor, Olivier Nguyen Van Tan, Marketing Director of Salesforce, observes that the “role of the company in society is no longer an option”. “The relationship that the customer has with the company is no longer built only at the time of the sale, taking into account the single product or service. Trust is built before, during and after the act of purchasing, at the level of the entire value chain: it is a whole that must be consistent from start to finish, ”explains Olivier Nguyen Van Tan. Indeed, 53% of respondents say they stop buying a brand when it does not respect the values it displays. A rate that reaches 65% among 25-34 year olds.
“The French, but especially young people, do not appreciate the deceptive masks and the exchangeable concepts in terms of values”, points out Ronan Chastellier, recalling that “the rejection via social networks is often almost immediate, being able to suddenly tilt a sign on the side of unfriendly brands ”. Illustration that the values should not be abandoned along the way, but be anchored and embodied on a daily basis, 51% of respondents (69% of 25-34 year olds) say they are more loyal to a brand whose leader or ambassadors are known for their commitment.
“When the manager is in harmony with the values of his company or an ambassador transfers a little of his emotional notoriety there, this naturally contributes to endow the brand with a special power”, explains Ronan Chastellier.
Nevertheless, communication seems to remain a delicate exercise: while 41% of French people appreciate that an organization recalls its values in its commercial discourse, 56% prefer that it focus exclusively on its offers. “We may have had excessive recourse to values for products that did not ask for so much”, remarks the sociologist.
For his part, Olivier Nguyen Van Tan evokes “a subtle balance between values and product”. “Some, like Adidas with its iconic Stan Smith model now eco-designed, have found the right balance between highlighting the performance of the product and the overall strategy of the company”, he underlines, recalling nevertheless that “building the image of a reliable brand remains difficult and must be the subject of constant attention, because everything can fall apart very quickly”.
Thus, 62% of French people believe that a brand that communicates too much about its values loses credibility. “The line between acceptance and rejection is fine,” confirms Ronan Chastellier. And the sociologist concludes that “a communication excessively focused on values can tire and become counterproductive in an environment saturated with good intentions and a kind of” letting go of values ”from brands that are quickly deemed invasive. “
Survey conducted on May 19 and 20, 2021, with a sample of 1,004 people, representative of the French population aged 18 and over, and interviewed by self-administered online questionnaire.