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As Australia re-opens, brands truly delivering social good, localism and sustainability will roar ahead


Emerging from lockdown is a “defining time for brands” and those that walk the talk to support communities, localism and focus on growth through doing good will power out of Covid – and well beyond, finds latest research from Nine, in partnership with Fiftyfive5.

Good equals growth

As states start to re-open, Nine’s research in partnership with Fiftyfive5 shows what people want from brands post-pandemic is to help rebuild communities and do social good.

The New Roaring 20s research study looks at how Australia will change over the next decade, but its near-term findings underline that consumer expectations of have shifted. They want brands to help build back better, support local communities and enable a more sustainable future.

“It’s a defining time for brands,” says Nine’s Sydney Head of Strategy, Steve Caunce. “Over the pandemic, Australians have definitely become far more attuned to how brands speak and more importantly, how they behave.”

Over the next 10 years, “these expectations are only going to increase, with an even greater focus around social good,” added Caunce. “Australian consumers are expecting brands to have a solid focus around sustainability. In fact, the research showed us that sustainability was the number one priority out of all the things consumers want from brands.”

Fivefifty5 Director, Hannah Krijnen, says the interviews and surveys undertaken for the latest research found brands big and small are recognising that need – and taking action.

“Whether that's about geographic community or the brand community online, we've really seen brands and businesses take a step towards having a bigger voice for the communities they stand up for, but also looking for ways in which the community can support them,” says Krijnen.

“So we’re seeing a really beautiful crossover between the interests of the brand, the business and the community – and we’re seeing those brands really step up into new opportunities and new growth,” she adds. “Most of the business owners we spoke to were very focused on community, what role it could play and how they too could play a better role in their community.”

Diversity, authenticity, stability

Looking further ahead, the research suggests brands can grow with Gen Z consumers by reflecting their values of diversity, authenticity and sustainability while providing them with stability in a less certain world.

“The importance of brands offering stability and consistency is something that shouldn't be underestimated,” says Caunce. “In fact, these advertising fundamentals haven't changed and I don't think they will change in the future. But the rate of change is something that the study really brought home – and brands will be required to constantly evolve.”

While flux can create consistency challenges for brands, change also brings opportunity for those that can adapt with agility, says Caunce.

Krijnen agrees: Marketers must prepare for a decade of rapid cultural and technological shifts, but retain the core principles of their craft as the world and market environments change.

“I've been talking to people about brands for almost two decades. So to see people really engaging with stories and engaging with how brands behave, giving them additional respect, intending to spend more money with them, really underlines the importance of the fundamentals of marketing and brand strategy,” says Krijnen.

“It does mean brands are more under the microscope, becasue people are really paying attention. But in many ways that will lead to stronger and better branding as well – because the more brands behave in the way that they talk, the stronger the brand is.”

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