2018’s Challenge For Brands: Be More Human

January 16, 2018

Why brands need to be more human

You may have already heard, but Forbes recently named our Trending 2018 report as the best in the market, with its consumer-focused content, fresh data analysis and clear calls to action. Containing eight actions for brands to take this year, here we focus on the sixth in the report – the concept that failure is a necessary (and admissible) stopover on the pathway to success. Fine to be Fallible is one of our trends that recognises that empathy-building is essential to genuinely connecting with consumers. And can a connection ever be truly authentic if players only share polished versions of themselves? Brands need no longer shy away from confronting their shortcomings in public  –  after all, imperfection is a consequence of being human.

45% of consumers say they “like brands that do not take themselves too seriously” and although 1 in 3 neither agree nor disagree, this is a signal for companies to position themselves as approachable and, critically, genuine. In previous research, Foresight Factory found that this brand attribute made customers 10x more likely to recommend their supermarket than others. The commercial impact is evident. It’s no surprise that brands have already begun to capitalise on the acceptance of failure.

In July 2017, Gatorade’s campaign “The Secret To Victory” focused on athletes recounting their stories of downfalls on their path to success. Then in August, popular hotpot chain Haidilao  –  which has a presence in nearly 60 Chinese cities as well as in Singapore, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tokyo  –  swiftly acknowledged shortcomings in restaurant hygiene. The issue was brought to light by an undercover investigation of one of its Beijing outlets. The brand released statements via its social channels recognising its faults and committing the company to improvements and regular reporting. In a market where supply chain safety can often be overlooked and issues are rarely acknowledged publicly, the company’s actions were welcomed by many on popular social media channel Weibo.

This trend does not, however, excuse corporate shortcomings  – a simple apology will now rarely suffice. Instead it cues brands to readily and rapidly acknowledge where and when mistakes have been made and, crucially, how this insight and feedback are being mined to improve products, services and customer experience in future.

In a world where consumers openly share their own vulnerabilities  –  with 70% of consumers in Germany, GB, Sweden and the US and 50% in China agreeing “I openly admit to my failings”  –  brands are invited to align with the struggles of customers, through sharing their own defeats, and by providing support and motivation for personal journeys.


Want to find out more about our Trending 2018 report that topped the Forbes list? We’ve got a webinar on the 24th of January just for you, register for free here.


Written by Emily Cullen

As Trends Manager at Foresight Factory my role revolves around spotting and quantifying new consumer trends, with a particular focus on Health, Beauty and Food innovation. I am also responsible for managing our team of Trends Strategists, and through this helping to ensure the smooth and high quality delivery of content to clients.