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People love brands – but wouldn’t care if 73% disappear tomorrow



Only 20% of brands are considered to have a positive impact on people’s lives, but these names financially outperform their non-impactful peers, according to a study by Havas Media Group.

The Meaningful Brands project, which seeks to analyse how big brands affect people’s wellbeing, also found that the public wouldn’t care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow.

A stock index created to collate the most influential brands, called the Meaningful Brands Index (MBi), has outperformed the market by 120% – which Havas says is on par with the top hedge funds.

The results of the index reflect people’s attachment to specific brands and the widespread use of products in today’s society. It’s therefore telling that four out of the top five – Google, Samsung, Microsoft and Sony – are technology brands.

The most impactful brands in the ranking are not with controversy, though. Google has been slammed for major tax avoidance in recent weeks; Samsung has been accused of using “unsustainable” materials in its products; and Walmart has received pressure from human rights groups in the wake of the factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed over 1,100 people.

Havas said the top brands in its index “systematically improve our personal and collective wellbeing and are rewarded by stronger brand equity and attachment.”

Sara de Dios, global director of Meaningful Brands, said, “Technology brands are becoming new personal icons, empowering us to expand our potential.

“They help people express themselves and connect with others making people feel better, happier and more satisfied with their lives.”

Havas’ research suggests the overall relationship between citizens and brands is “broken” as the majority of people would not care if 73% of brands disappeared tomorrow. Also, the majority of participants said they don’t trust brands and that companies should act positively to solve social problems and to improve the quality of lives.

Society’s disconnection with big brands was particularly significant in Europe and the US – where people would be happy anyway if around 92% of brands didn’t exist. In Asia and Latin America though, people are six times more attached to brands, which are seen as an effective tools to improve lives.

Further reading:

Fashion industry and US college team up for sustainability

Unilever report maps how sustainability has contributed to its growth

Ethical consumerism’s long journey to the mainstream

Kellogg’s and Mars among poor performers in Oxfam ethics scorecard

The Guide to Fair Trade 2013