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2017 Golin Global Relevance Review


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Our first-ever Global Relevance Review reveals what drives relevance for brands in 13 markets across the globe. In partnership with the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Journalism and Communications, we studied 13,000 people in 13 markets on four continents. The research covers several communications macro trends and includes a deeper look at three categories that touch billions of lives every day: automotive, personal banking and social media.

But we know that big data only tells part of the story. So we paired our global study with some small-town intelligence. We focused on two small towns that took everyone by surprise with populist movements in America and England: Seymour, Indiana (the crossroads of America and hometown of John Mellencamp), and Preston, U.K., more than 200 miles northwest of London This ethnographic approach is how we study cultural phenomena – and it’s a qualitative, deep dive into the lives of people who represent it.

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2017 Golin Global Relevance Review

  2. 2. WHY RELEVANCE IS OUR OBSESSION: As brand marketers, we should all be obsessed with relevance. Lots of people use it as a buzzword, or a single metric buried in a long study. But it should be our primary focus. WHY DOES RELEVANCE MATTER? If no one is paying attention to what you have to say, it’s impossible to build engagement, reputation, love, trust or any other traditional measure of brand strength. If people are not paying attention to what you have to say, then they are actively ignoring you, rendering your messaging, placement and marketing and communications dollars moot. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY BRAND RELEVANCE? Relevance is what attracts and keeps people paying attention to what brands have to say and moves them to act. It’s a two-part principle: willing to listen and willing to act. MARKETING IS A CONTEST FOR PEOPLE’S ATTENTION. - SETH GODIN WHY RELEVANCE “
  3. 3. IN THE 2017 BATTLE FOR RELEVANCE, TRUTH IS HAVING ITS MOMENT OF TRUTH. Have people been so let down by brands, companies, categories and institutions that they are moving on from truth? This is part of a major shift. Having lost faith in brands and institutions, people are looking to each other, to their trusted tribes – friends, family, advocates and influencers – for validation in the choices they are making. Capturing and sustaining talkability means putting a premium on the people who will vouch for, and recommend, your brand. Golin’s first-ever Global Relevance Review reveals what drives relevance for categories and brands across the globe. In partnership with the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Golin studied 13,000 people in 13 markets on four continents. Markets included Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, UAE, UK and the U.S. The survey population included Millennials, GenX-ers and Baby Boomers, touched on several communications macro trends and focused on three categories: Automotive, Retail Banking and Social Media. * Following are Golin’s macro and category findings. Specific research results can be made available upon request. IN THE 2017 BATTLE FOR RELEVANCE, TRUTH IS HAVING ITS MOMENT OF TRUTH. WHAT WE FOUND 2017 GLOBAL RELEVANCE REVIEW WHAT DOES IT MEAN People around the world think that their ideal brand would be trustworthy: ethical, moral, honest and truthful. The reality is that 0% of the most relevant brands studied met the ideal when it came to being trustworthy. The ideal, as it turns out, is not the reality when it comes to brand relevance. In the absence of truth, people are placing value on other drivers of relevance. And the one common dimension that we see driving relevance around the world is popularity: being talked about and recommended by others. 91% of the most relevant brands studied exceed the expectation when it came to being popular. In a post-truth, post-U.S. election, post-Brexit world, talkability trumps truth. TALKABILITY TRUMPS TRUTH.
  4. 4. SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS People don’t need truth; they just want to be entertained. The most relevant of the three categories, leading brands are not seen as trustworthy or transparent, but entertaining and popular. RETAIL BANKS People prefer local banks to global banks. And in 11 out of 12 markets, all banks under-deliver on the top three ideal dimensions: trustworthy, transparent and effective. In the absence of those, unique relevance drivers have emerged in each market. AUTOMOTIVE For all its marketing and communications efforts, the automotive category struggles to have a breakout relevance brand leader. The world’s leading car companies are generally seen as relevant for the same reasons, at generally the same levels, including not delivering against the trust dimension. CATEGORY FINDINGS THE CURRENCY OF THE NEW ECONOMY WON’T BE MONEY, BUT ATTENTION. – MICHAEL H. GOLDHABER, WIRED SCREENS WIN OUT OVER PEOPLE (when it comes to sources of information) Social media (59%) and television (57%) consistently ranked first and second above “word of mouth from friends and family” (45%) as the most relevant sources of news and information GLOBAL MACRO TREND FINDINGS WORD OF MOUTH SEES GENDER DIFFERENCES Word of mouth from friends and family is more relevant to women (50%) than men (39%) PEOPLE ARE DRAWN TO PRAGMATIC & FUNNY The top characteristics of information people found relevant were useful/practical (54%), informative (53%), and funny (35%), beating out others like inspiring, shocking & exciting “
  5. 5. To complement the global research, Golin also embarked on an ethnographic study of residents in two small towns that were part of the populist movements whose impact took America and England by surprise: Seymour, Indiana (the crossroads of America and hometown of John Mellencamp), and Preston, U.K., more than 200 miles northwest of London. Golin wanted to study this cultural phenomenon up close by listening to, and spending an extended period of time with, the people who represent it. Golin used ‘Ask Seymour’ and ‘Ask Preston’ to connect with people in small towns that have largely felt ignored. While the rest of the world was prospering, they felt forgotten by their government and by media. But how do they feel about companies and brands? Golin wanted to know what makes the people of small towns tick, get their take on the three categories (social media platforms, retail banks, and cars), and uncover what the implications of the last year were for brands and companies. * To view Golin’s full ethnographies, go to SMALL TOWN INTELLIGENCE 1. Small town residents often get the feeling that someone is trying to get one over on them. 2. They make no distinction between big government, big cities, mainstream media, corporate America, and big companies – they feel that all are ignoring small-town people equally. All of them are part of the "The System,” "The Man,“ "The Elites,” etc. 3. Small-town stereotypes need to be broken: residents are tech and social media savvy – and they expect the latest innovations – but they do not want to lose a personal connection as a result. 4. Global brands can be as relevant as local brands as long as there is a demonstration of understanding local needs. 5. There’s nothing quite as powerful as small-town brand loyalty. It can last for generations. The good news is a little goes a long way when it comes to engendering goodwill. Just the simple courtesy of taking the time to listen, engage, show up, and walk a few miles in their shoes would be greatly appreciated. KEY FINDINGS
  6. 6. Relevance theory is not new, but it re-emerged in our field with Seth Godin’s philosophy of Permission Marketing, where we “recognize the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing.” If we’re deemed relevant, we have been given permission to occupy space in someone’s mind. It’s about giving or paying attention. And we are asking people to give or pay with something that they have less of, but is growing in value: time. We spend our careers developing ideas that will make (or keep) a brand relevant to its audiences. What’s a relevant brand? Look no further than the James Bond franchise as the holy grail of relevance. For more than 60 years, the franchise’s DNA has remained consistent: women, cars, martinis, cool gadgets and catching bad guys. It also stays relevant for the times through whom they cast and how they film. GOLIN’S APPROACH TO RELEVANCE THE JAMES BOND FRANCHISE IS THE EPITOME OF WHAT A MASS CONSUMER BRAND SHOULD ASPIRE TO BE IN TODAY’S SOCIETY. ETERNALLY RELEVANT, POPULIST AND WITH A NOD AND A WINK OF HUMOR. FOR IF YOU’RE NOT RELEVANT, YOU’RE BEING IGNORED. DOES ANYONE REMEMBER NAPOLEON SOLO? – MATT NEALE, CO-CEO, GOLIN There are three questions we should be asking ourselves: 1. What does being “relevant” actually mean to communicators? 2. Is my brand relevant, relative to my competition? 3. Is there a scientific baseline or methodology for how to create, measure and grow relevance? “ We are all besieged by data and information. Bombarded with 9,000 messages every day. We also blink about 18,000 times a day. So by the time you’ve blinked twice, you’ve been asked to absorb something new. In our age of distraction, many of us get paid to communicate information on behalf of our clients, with the goal of inspiring someone to act. It might be a relatively small act: watch, smile or click. Maybe it’s a more involved act: share, search or talk about something. Perhaps it’s a deeper and more personal act: reach out and connect, change an opinion, advocate or spend money. To inspire someone to act, you first need to be relevant.
  7. 7. WHY SHOULD WE CARE? TWO KEY REASONS: a. Relevance isn’t the only important brand measure, but it’s the first. Relevance is the proverbial tip of the spear. If we’re relevant, we break through the mental spam filters we’ve all developed to manage the deluge of messages we are bombarded with every day. If we’re irrelevant, then we don’t penetrate those spam filters. Are we relevant or irrelevant? It’s one or the other. As communicators, that’s a really big deal. Imagine competitive brands A and B decide to spend $10 million dollars each on marketing communications campaigns. They’re targeting the same people and are using the same channels. If brand A is irrelevant, they’ve completely wasted $10 million dollars. People are not willing to listen to an irrelevant brand. They keep scrolling, swiping left, flipping the channel or blocking them out entirely. It doesn’t matter how much Brand A spends, where they spend or what they say. The message has been lost. No one is listening. It’s being ignored. b. Great brands are relevant for decades. Relevance + Time = $$$. There are some who have done the impossible. In an ever-changing world, they have stayed relevant for decades. As mentioned earlier, James Bond is one of these success stories. But others that have gotten it right include The Rolling Stones, Apple (mostly), Maya Angelou, Barclays, The Simpsons, Coca-Cola, Tiffany & Co. and Cambridge University. Some haven’t: Kodak, Blockbuster, Tower Records, travel agents, Blackberry, Menudo, Atari and HMV. From on top of the world to buried. Some were victims of circumstance. Some rested on their laurels. Many had a good run, but they didn’t stand the test of time. 2. IS MY BRAND RELEVANT, RELATIVE TO MY COMPETITION? While we can learn from relevant brands outside our category, it’s not critical to our business. What’s crucial to understand is where you are relative to your competitors, because that is who you are stealing share from every day. If you’re selling brownies, it’s critical that you’re more relevant than other brownie makers, not that you’re more relevant than Apple. 1. WHAT DOES BEING “RELEVANT” ACTUALLY MEAN (AND WHY SHOULD I CARE)? At first glance, being “Relevant” sounds ephemeral. Like being “hot” or “famous.” But great brands and people stay relevant for a long time. And they work at it every day, which is why it’s the single most important brand measurement there is. Relevance is what attracts and keeps people paying attention to what brands have to say, and moves them to act. It’s a two-part principle. Willingness to listen. Willingness to act. And it lives in that sweet spot between what a brand wants to say, and what people are interested in.
  8. 8. 3. IS THERE A SCIENTIFIC BASELINE OR METHODOLOGY FOR HOW TO CREATE, MEASURE AND GROW RELEVANCE? Relevance is not a simple concept. It’s multi-dimensional, it’s regional, it’s category-specific and it can differ by cohort. While many have studied what creates permission, what compels people to pay attention and what inspires action, there hasn’t been a study that rigorously examines the building blocks of brand relevance. Until now. RELEVANCE LANDSCAPE ENTHUSIASM-df DEPTHOFPASSION/CONNECTIONWITHTHEBRAND By applying our algorithm, we can plot the relevance landscape of a category: where brands that compete against one another sit relative to each other. Golin has been studying relevance for several years. Through primary and secondary research, including a partnership with USC’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, we are now able to examine relevance in two ways.
  9. 9. We have tested and confirmed the 15 dimensions that consistently drive brand relevance. These 15 ‘DNA building blocks’ of relevance combine in different ways, and to different degrees, to create unique “Relevance Fingerprints” for every brand and category. (We arrived at these 15 dimensions through our global factor analysis research with USC). FINGERPRINT DIMENSIONS AUTHENTIC is genuine, true to itself, and an original CONTEMPORARY is up to date, modern, and reflects the present time DISTINCTIVE is unique, different, and stands apart from others EFFECTIVE is useful, practical, and reliable ENTERTAINING is fun, amusing, charming, and provides enjoyment ESSENTIAL is absolutely necessary or extremely important to daily life INFLUENTIAL is admired, respected and can affect the behavior of others INNOVATIVE is pioneering, and introduces new, creative and original ideas POPULAR is talked about or recommended by others PRESTIGIOUS is premium, high status, and sophisticated PROVOCATIVE is intriguing, exciting, controversial, and fascinating PURPOSEFUL is philanthropic, gives back or contributes in a humanitarian way TRANSPARENT is clear in how it operates, and is easy to understand TRUSTWORTHY is ethical, moral, honest, and truthful WELCOMING is warm, relatable, approachable and inviting We can dive into the 15 dimensions of each brand. We can compare brand fingerprints and look for clues, white space, crowding…we can see if we’re happy with what dimensions our clients are getting credit for and where our deficits are. And we can match a brand’s DNA with dimensions that we want to grow. RELEVANCE FINGERPRINT
  10. 10. We can also examine both the Relevance Landscape and the Relevance Fingerprint by specific target audiences, demographics and psychographics. Understanding a category’s Relevance Landscape and Fingerprint, especially which brands are delivering on which dimensions, are the keys that unlock successful engagement strategies. The interpretation of the data, the strategic direction we take, and the creative expression of those dimensions, is the art of relevance. Our challenge as marketers is to stand out among the 9,000 messages, ads, warnings and bits and pieces of information each day. To connect despite our daily decision fatigue. We used to create ideas based on profound insights without really attacking what makes an insight profound. With our Relevance Fingerprint methodology, our insights are now grounded in driving relevance. As marketers, that’s something we can all get excited about. “WHAT’S MOST GALVANIZING FOR ME IS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE TOPICAL AND RELEVANT AND ENTERTAINING. THAT’S THE HOLY GRAIL.” – DIRECTOR KATHRYN BIGELOW
  11. 11. Find out more at