Consent marketers - be more anthropomorphic!

Consent marketers - be more anthropomorphic!

David Cole | 31 March 2016

Marketing conferences are full of wide-eyed marketing gurus proclaiming trust is the next big marketing thing. Without trust, they say, a brand cannot survive in the modern commercial world. With trust, they infer, everything is possible. Well I’ve got news for you; it takes more than trust.

I suggest marketers should be a little more anthropomorphic (the attribution of human traits, emotions, and intentions to non-human entities) when considering concepts such as marketing consent, marketing trust and marketing relationships. Or more specifically, think about their own human relationships and consider what makes them work.

It was fast.MAP’s marketing consent research that got me thinking. We interviewed more than 2,000 consumers about brands they buy, or donate to. People were asked if they would like to continue to receive marketing from each brand and what they thought of its marketing programme.

The key finding is that most consumers “trust” a brand they have a commercial relationship with, but it takes more than trust to keep that relationship going. 

Although 63% of customers who choose not to receive further marketing do not trust that brand, other factors achieved a far higher score. Factors such as a brand’s marketing being perceived as not rewarding (82%), a belief that respondents would be over-contacted (80%), that marketing would not be interesting (77%), or would not include exclusive offers (77%), would not make respondents feel appreciated (75%), or that their data would be shared (73%) or not kept safe (69%).

It seems that all these factors are more of an issue than a lack of trust when consumers make the decision to continue to receive marketing.

fastMAP views of 2000 customers who do not want further marketing


So let’s be a little anthropomorphic towards brand relationships. We can probably all think of eminently trustworthy people with whom we prefer not to keep in regular contact.

Perhaps it’s because they like chess and we like fishing (different interests), or maybe once they became our friend they called too often and were too demanding of our time (over contact). Or maybe, while we trust them there are other friends whose company we prefer (other preferred brands).

The truth is our human relationships have depth and complexity. While trust is invariably a good starting point, there needs to be a genuine reason for a relationship, otherwise what’s the point? 

So when we try to persuade consumers to continue to receive our marketing, we should not lazily assume because we are trusted they will want to keep in contact. Instead we should ask what value will they derive from continued contact with us? What’s in it for them? An umbrella of indeterminate “trust” is not enough. Specific reasons are needed for them to continue to allow contact.

The irony is that while marketers sprinkle corporate/conference speak with terms such as “brand relationship” and even use the term when communicating with consumers; when they are forced to walk the talk, few do.

Try to be a little more anthropomorphic when attempting to persuade customers to stay in touch.


David Cole, Managing Director, fast.MAP 

Read the next blog post in the series from fast.MAP: True or False? Debunking direct mail myths...


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