Highly connected but increasingly suspicious: Sceptical New Zealanders mistrustful of brands online according to global study

By Wright Communications

Despite high levels of connectivity, brands face a struggle to connect with New Zealanders via online channels, according to Kantar TNS's latest Connected Life research.

Kantar TNS surveyed 70,000 people across 56 countries and conducted 104 in-depth interviews as part of the 2017 Connected Life study. The research explored consumer trust in brands in relation to four themes: technology, content, data, and e-commerce. The findings show that while New Zealanders spend 4.7 hours online every day, the opportunity for brands to engage with them there is under threat, as consumers are failing to see the value exchange from sharing personal data and are sceptical of brand motivations.


This trend is not limited to New Zealand where one in five (21%) trust global brands. The study revealed this trust varies significantly between emerging and developed markets: in Singapore, approximately one third (35%) of consumers trust big global brands and almost two thirds (57%) in China. However consumer trust falls significantly in developed markets like Australia, where just 19% trust big global brands.


The research also reveals that mistrust filters through to the content that people are consuming online, as just 17% of consumers in New Zealand consider the content they see on social media reliable. Half (51%) also have concerns about how much control the social media networks have over the content that they see on their feeds.


The findings also show that despite the ever-growing benefits that can be delivered through sharing data, New Zealanders are cautious about how much of their personal information they share online. Almost two thirds (62%) of consumers in New Zealand object to connected devices monitoring their activities even if it makes their lives easier, and 58% have concerns about the amount of personal data that brands have on them. The study shows that people in New Zealand are becoming increasingly aware of the price they are paying for their connected lifestyles, and many feel on the losing end of an unfair exchange.


Commenting on the findings, Victoria Fedotova, Group Client Director, Kantar TNS New Zealand, said:


"When it comes to the digital world, New Zealanders are some of the most sceptical consumers in the world. This ranges from concerns about how much personal data brands hold about them to the content consumers see on social media.

"With more brands moving to newer technologies, forging trustworthy relationships with consumers online will be critical. Brands are going to have to work hard to overcome these barriers to demonstrate new and meaningful ways to connect with New Zealanders."

The rapid evolution of technology is enabling brands to develop better, smoother customer service experiences, but poor deployment or a failure to meet basic needs can erode consumers' trust and confidence in brands. One in three (32%) of consumers in New Zealand say that they would accept interacting with an AI-powered machine such as a chatbot if it meant their query was dealt with more quickly, however 39% would object to using one.


This year's findings also showed that while advances in technology aim to make consumers' lives simpler and easier, people feel increasingly distracted and harassed by it: 28% of 16-24 year olds in New Zealand think they use their mobile phones too much.

New technologies such as 'buy buttons' in social and mobile payments are making ecommerce smoother. However, despite the mature digital ecosystem in New Zealand, only 22% of New Zealanders say that they are willing to pay for products using their mobile phone.  It's clear that for many people, the existing payment systems still work, therefore brands and businesses need to truly demonstrate the benefit to using new payment options if they want acceptance to increase.


Michael Nicholas, Global Lead of Connected Solutions, Kantar TNS, concludes:

"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."

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