Protect consumer trust in our brands

Trust in a community and trust in brand

Opinion
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Robbie Sefton says protecting consumer trust in the Australian brand, the brand that underpins many successful export brands, is paramount.

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Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, wore a modest pair of Paspaley earrings during her recent visit to Australia. Photo (AAP Image/AP Pool, Steve Christo)

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, wore a modest pair of Paspaley earrings during her recent visit to Australia. Photo (AAP Image/AP Pool, Steve Christo)

Thanks to technology and our hyper-connected world, the marketing game is changing.

Where a big marketing campaign once meant carpet-bombing advertisements across TV and newspapers, today one perfect product placement will carry a punch undreamed of before the internet amplified human affairs.

That placement doesn’t have to be intentional, as Paspaley pearls discovered when Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wore a modest pair of Paspaley earrings during her recent visit to Australia. Paspaley don’t know where the Duchess got her earrings, but they were very happy to report a five-fold increase in visits to their online site because of her decision to wear them.

Earlier, several Australian brands gained a big boost from an event most Australians have never heard of: China’s Singles Day. Created by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to encourage single people to treat themselves by going shopping on 11/11 (an auspicious date in China), this year’s Singles Day produced an astonishing $42 billion in sales within 24 hours.

Swisse Vitamins and Australian agri-heroes A2 Milk and Australian lamb were among the beneficiaries of this sales frenzy, reports the Australian Financial Review: “Swisse, an Australian supplements producer now owned by a Chinese company, was the number one imported brand; Australian vitamin brand Bio Island was fifth and A2 Milk was sixth. In the first hour of the event, sales of Australian lamb increased 775 per cent from last year.”

There are to things happening here: trust in a community and trust in brand. Consumers are increasingly turning away from the wiles of marketers toward a source of information they trust: themselves. On social media, like usually hangs with like, so when a few members of an online community start to talk about a brand, the herd tends to follow. 

A2 Milk and Australian lamb are excellent products, but the larger idea that Singles Day shoppers are investing in is “Australia” - our clean, spacious and well-regulated land. A2 milk from Guangdong and Mongolian lamb are unlikely to have the same selling power.

Of course, the tremendous brand amplification provided by the internet can drive phenomenal sales — or it can backfire with the same force. Which is why protecting consumer trust in the Australian brand, the brand that underpins many successful export brands, is paramount.  

Building a product brand is the work of an enterprise. Sustaining the Australia brand is the work of us all. Our world is becoming increasingly fragmented and tribal, but this is a project that demands that we work together. 

  • Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer, producing wool, meat and grains, and as managing director of national marketing communications company Seftons.
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