80 major brands in the Netherlands are failing to meet key consumer expectations. To remain relevant, brands need to show more of what they actually do for our society and the climate. This is evident according to Omnicom PR Group’s Authenticity Gap research presented today.
Too little action on data security and sustainability at companies
Amsterdam, January 17th, 2022 – 80 major brands in the Netherlands are failing to meet key consumer expectations. To remain relevant, brands need to show more of what they actually do for our society and the climate. This is evident according to Omnicom PR Group’s Authenticity Gap research presented today, a survey among 1,000 Dutch informed consumers*.
This research also reveals that:
- 90% of the 80 organizations surveyed in the Netherlands do not meet consumer expectations when it comes to sustainability. Dutch consumer expectations of sustainability are also substantially higher than in the UK (75%) or Germany (68%);
- 65% of Dutch consumers think organizations should show what they do for society and the climate;
- Dutch consumers find it especially important that organizations ensure the security of (their) data and data privacy.
More careful handling of data by companies
Consumers are seriously concerned about the increasing digitalization of society and the vulnerabilities this brings. 93% of Dutch people are (very) concerned about how companies and other organizations deal with data security and data privacy:
- 86% of consumers expect organizations to have good data security and other ways to protect consumers beyond applicable regulations;
- 84% of consumers say that uncertainty about their privacy makes them less likely to use services from companies that leverage customer data;
- more than three-quarters (77%) of consumers believe that companies do not adequately represent their interests in the face of data security threats.
More topical concerns than ones about fake news or LGBTQ rights
The most important issues that the Netherlands is currently concerned about are healthcare, access to education, poverty and violence against women. These topics are now more important to Dutch consumers than, for example, the spread of fake news or LGBTQ rights.
There is also a difference in the topics consumers are concerned about and the concrete actions they expect companies and organizations to take on key themes. In addition to concerns about data security and data privacy, consumers also expect organizations to make commitments on the climate, minimum wage, income and wage inequality, combating discrimination and providing equal opportunities.
Concrete actions instead of product communication
No less than 65% of Dutch consumers find it (very) important that organizations show their impact is on society and the climate and therefore, should not merely communicate about product benefits. This is not only about speaking out as an organization on social issues, but particularly about offering solutions and taking concrete actions.
Most desired actions on climate and diversity
According to Dutch consumers, these are the top three most meaningful actions that organizations can take right now to make a difference on climate and promote diversity in the workplace:
Top 3 climate:
- Offset all CO₂ emissions from your organization.
- Commit not only your own organization to CO₂ and environmental standards, but also hold customers and partners accountable.
- Switch to a renewable energy supplier for all office, factory or storage locations.
Top 3 diversity:
- Train and retrain employees on unconscious biases and promote diversity in daily practice.
- Set clear goals for diversity, equity and inclusion and employ an understandable organizational strategy.
- Provide reliable and accessible systems that provide confidential internal feedback.
Netherlands pays unprecedented attention to CEO
Three quarters of consumers expect CEOs to always set a good example with their behaviour. An even larger group (78%) expects executives to also speak out on issues that are not directly related to the organization, but do have a major impact on society:
- no fewer than 86% of consumers expect executives to speak out about climate targets and actively contribute to them;
- over 80% of the Netherlands think CEOs should make it clear how they contribute to promoting diversity and inclusion, both within their own organization and beyond;
- 84% think CEOs should contribute to improving public health.
Climate is an important issue, but there are more areas where consumers are calling for action, such as data privacy and healthcare.Marjolein Rigter
“Dutch consumers have high expectations of organizations, even more so than in our neighbouring countries,” says Marjolein Rigter, Business Director Reputation Management & Partner at Omnicom PR Group. “Climate is an important issue, but there are more areas where consumers are calling for action, such as data privacy and healthcare. So it’s becoming increasingly important as an organization to show what you do for society as a whole. But as a brand you have to choose carefully what you focus on, because consumers don’t find everything credible. This emphasizes the importance of (continuous) research within your organization in order to find out with which topics and actions you are actually credible and relevant and remain so for consumers.”
*Informed consumers: individuals with above average interest or involvement in one of the ten sectors studied.