The mobile era has trust issues – and many consumers feel branded social media posts are not relevant

Half of UK consumers consider branded posts on social media to be irrelevant. That’s according to a new survey by Kantar TNS among 70,000 people across 56 countries as well as 104 in-depth interviews. According to the results, there’s a strong divide between consumers being either suspicious in developed nations versus consumers in emerging markets being more accepting.

The data suggests that half of North Americans are worried about the control that social networks have over what users are seeing in their feeds. Meanwhile, 40% of consumers worldwide are concerned about the level of personal data that brands are collecting about them.

A high level of mistrust is also apparent for connected devices. 43% of consumers worldwide do actually object to connected devices which monitor their activities even though it would improve their lives.

However, trust issues are not a global problem. For example, 9% of Swedish consumers would consider social media content reliable compared to a whopping 61% of consumers in Indonesia.

Similarly, 57% and 54% of consumers in China and Nigeria, respectively, trust big brands. However, just 21% of 15% of US and French consumers, respectively, feel the same way.

Michael Nicholas, Global Lead of Connected Solutions, Kantar TNS explains that the post-truth era has made a mark on suspicion and acceptance.

“In developed countries, the connection that brands have strived to have with consumers – whether reaching them through new technologies, sharing brand content, targeting them based on their personal data or widening the scope of ecommerce – appears to be eroding trust, not building it. The divide that we are seeing between consumers in developed and emerging countries around the world poses a real challenge for global brands: namely, how can they build and maintain trust in this rapidly changing world? There are implications for every brand, because the most successful ones are typically those that are trusted by consumers. But when trust is lost, it can be hugely damaging.”

Nicholas suggests that the reason why consumers in emerging markets are more trusting in technology and social media channels stems from the effects it has on their lives – empowerment. He adds:

“When it comes to data, they still have tangible expectations from brands such as rewards in exchange for their personal information. It’s a very different picture in developed markets, where consumers demand more and expect brands to transform the overall customer experience in exchange for data”

Other key findings from the report include that 39% of consumers are happy to interact with a chatbot as long as a query is answered rapidly. At the same time though, consumers are increasingly feeling harassed by their devices: a third of 16 to 24-year-olds said they used their mobile phones too much.

In addition, mobile payments are only slowly advancing in the west. Although 64% of Chinese consumers prefer to pay for goods using their mobile devices, 57% of French and German consumers as well as 54% of US consumers do not want to pay for anything using their mobile devices.

“Trust is fragile. Brands in emerging countries see higher levels of consumer trust today than those in developed ones but they shouldn’t take it for granted. To build and protect trust, brands need to put the customer first. That means understanding their motivations, understanding the right moments to engage with them, respecting their time as valuable, and being more transparent about how and when they collect and use their personal data. Above all, that means putting the customer first – something that many marketers have forgotten to do.”