February 26, 2019


by William Turner in News

Havas Group’s Maria Garrido shares the highlights of the 2019 Meaningful Brands study and why being meaningful is good for business.

Seventy-seven percent of brands could disappear and no one would care. That’s just one of the sobering stats in Havas Group’s 2019 Meaningful Brands® Study that should alarm marketers and advertisers alike.

The far-reaching, global study, created by Havas Group in 2008 and which looks at 1,800 brands in 31 markets with 350,000 respondents, links brand performance to our quality of life and well-being.

Maria Garrido, Chief Insights and Analytics Officer at Havas Group and Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing at Vivendi, shares: what makes brands meaningful; the role content plays in each industry; and why Google earned the top spot this year.


What makes brands meaningful?

It’s a combination of many factors, including the functional benefits a brand delivers, how the brand impacts the individual, and the brand’s contribution to society. These three benefit pillars combined, at different levels of importance by country and industry, define meaningfulness for a brand.

What are the big takeaways in 2019?

First, the number of brands that could disappear and no one would care has shot up to 77%. Second, being meaningful continues to be good for business. Both in terms of stock market performance and marketing KPIs, meaningful brands significantly outperform competitors. Third, a brand’s contribution to society—“brand activism”—is becoming an important part of how people (not just millennials) determine whether a brand is meaningful. And lastly, there’s still a lot of room for improvement in the brand content space. Ninety percent of consumers expect brands to provide content, but more than half of the content they deliver today is considered meaningless.

So, what can brands do to be more meaningful?

Brands can work on better delivery of both personal and collective benefits. These will vary by industry and brands should understand what is expected of them in the personal space, as well as in their contribution to society. Delivering on these aspects will lead to more meaning, and ultimately, better business performance.

There has been a lot of political unrest around the globe the last few years. Did that play any role in the study’s findings?

Surprisingly, yes! Even the brand world is affected by the political unrest. Around the world, our study shows that over half of people expect brands to play a more important role than governments in improving society.

You mentioned 90% of consumers expect brands to provide content, yet more than half the content from brands is not meaningful to consumers, drowned out by content noise. What can brands do to cut through the clutter?

They must first understand the role that content plays for their industry. In certain industries, brands are expected to provide entertainment; in others, like Retail, the priority is on content that rewards; and in yet others, like Healthcare, people want helpful and inspirational content. This must inform and inspire the kinds of content brands deliver and will certainly help cut through the clutter.

Five of the top 10 global performers are internet or tech brands. What makes them more meaningful than other brands?

We’ve seen some fascinating things from these brands in the last decade. Many tech brands are breaking the walls of their industry and becoming more human-centric, looking to service the entire human experience, not just their tech needs. In 2017, the largest US tech companies invested over $2.7B in healthcare companies.

What secures Google the top spot amongst meaningful brands?

In addition to what I just mentioned, Google does a good job of delivering the functional, personal, and collective benefits people expect. For example, some of the key personal benefits that people look for in tech brands are “helps connect me with others” and “teaches me new skills.” Google delivers successfully on these points.

What can the research tell us about which sectors and which brands will do well in the future?

We can’t predict the future! But we do know that brands that are better at delivering on personal benefits, that contribute to society, and that provide content that is relevant and meaningful to people will outperform their peers not just on meaningfulness, but in business success. I suspect that tech brands will continue to do well.