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88% of consumers think brands are selfish, says new research by Sense.

In the same way people like individuals who don’t just think about themselves, consumers prefer those brands that prove their generosity and don’t simply have their own interests at heart, according to Generous Brands, a new study by real world marketing agency Sense.


The problem is that 88% of the 2,000 consumers surveyed said they think brands are selfish, with 72% saying that they spend most of the time just talking about themselves. The findings along with highly critical quotes from respondents, including: “Advertising is just money spent making more money,” reveal that brands need to change the way they market and advertise themselves to an increasingly sceptical audience.

“We wanted to explore what relationship people have with brands and advertising, and how they feel about them,” explained Alex Smith, Planning Director at Sense, who led the research project. “The results were far more extreme than we thought. We found out that most people think that brands are concerned primarily with their own interest, with 92% believing there is a disconnect between what brands say and what they do, which suggests there’s a huge trust gap.”

The study also shows that this is a growing trend that brands need to address urgently, as 86% people said they expect brands to do more to prove their purpose than they did five years ago. So how can brands prove their generosity to consumers?

“A generous brand takes an interest in people’s lives, it does things for them and puts its money where its mouth is,” said Smith. “Our research shows that people would be more open to brands that behave generously and show commitment to improve their lives. To do this they need to change their approach, as most people find existing campaigns boring and are four times more likely to trust a brand that connects with people through real actions in the real world rather than just advertising.”

Click here to download the Generous Brands report, which includes the full findings of the research along with advice on how brands can prove their purpose more effectively.