60% of content created by brands is ‘just clutter’

The majority of content created by brands is having little or no impact on business results or people’s lives, according to Havas’ latest ‘Meaningful Brands’ study.

content havas meaningful brands survey
Havas’ meaningful brands study found a correlation between brands that create effective content and business results

Some 60% of the content created by the world’s leading 1,500 brands is “just clutter” that has little impact on consumers’ lives or business results.

That is the conclusion of a new report by media agency Havas. For the first time this year, The ‘Meaningful Brands’ study looked at the role of content and whether it has value or not. This is in response to the growing importance of content and the customer experience, and as media agencies try to figure out their role in this changing landscape.

The study, which questioned 375,000 people across 33 countries, found that 84% expect brands to produce content. This can range from digital content such as podcasts or a web series to experiential events. Yet 60% said the content brands currently create is “poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver”.

There is a big benefit to getting content right. Havas found a 71% correlation between content effectiveness and a brand’s impact on consumers’ personal wellbeing. That is important because the greater impact a brand has on personal wellbeing, the more meaningful a brand becomes and the better business results it achieves.

According to the study, meaningful brands outperform the stock market by 206%, see a 48% increase in share of wallet and 137% greater returns on KPIs. The study defines ‘meaningful brands’ as those that have an impact on consumers’ personal, collective and functional benefits.

The research found that most brands do a “good job” on the functional and collective benefits but fall down when it comes to personal wellbeing. That suggests that while they are successfully explaining to consumers the benefits of using their products, they are failing to move their brand up the benefit ladder to explain its impact on their lives.

That failure means globally consumers would not care if 74% of brands disappeared, with that figure rising to 94% in UK. That is a similar level to previous iterations of the study and despite many brands’ attempts to show they have a brand purpose or stand for something.

READ MORE: ‘British consumers would not care if 94% of brands disappeared’

Maria Garrido, Havas Media Group’s global chief insights and analytics officer, says she also thinks the gap between those brands that score highly in the study and those that don’t perform as well is getting wider.

“The core brands such as Google and Ikea that are perennially in our ranking are doing better. There are certain brands in the global ranking now that weren’t last time so there is a shift from that standpoint but generally the gap is getting wider. And it comes down to personal benefits delivery. That is what drives business results. This should serve as a wake-up call,” she tells Marketing Week.

What content works

Garrido highlights a number of brands that are doing content well and therefore boosting how meaningful they are. Nicorette, for example, created three-minute videos showing what people who quit smoking had accomplished with the aim of inspiring others. In Havas’ results it got a performance score of 64%.

Compare that to Target, for example, which sponsored a live ad during the Grammy’s of Gwen Stefani performing her new single. That scored just 19%, which Garrido describes as “not spectacular in any way”. Neither brand are Havas clients.

Brands get rose-tinted glasses about entertaining people and think that is all consumers want.

Maria Garrido, Havas Media Group

Garrido says the study shows that brands need to understand what sort of content works for their audience and where the opportunity is. For example, consumers expect retailers to create content that ‘educates’ them, yet most are fixated on ‘entertaining’.

She cites Waitrose’s recent TV campaign showing a live feed of cows grazing as a prime example of the type of content that works for retailers. In fact, UK retailers are the “gold standard” by which retailers in other markets should judge themselves, says Garrido. While retail came out as one of the top content producers in the UK, it was only 11th out of the 13 that Havas measured globally.

For other categories there are opportunities beyond priority content. For example in healthcare, while content should primarily be about helping, educating and informing consumers also want to be inspired, hence the success of the Nicorette campaign.

“Brands get rose-tinted glasses about entertaining people and think that is all consumers want,” she explains. “What brands need to do is break down their content, take a step back and ask, for their industry, what the role of content is. Whether it is to inspire, educating, help, reward, inform or entertain then rank them and work out what is a ‘must have’, where the opportunities are and what they should not be focusing on at all.”

Tech sector leads meaningful brands list

Overall, tech sectors topped the meaningful brands list, with Google, PayPal and Whatsapp leading the global rankings and Whatsapp coming top in the UK. Part of the reason for this is because tech is so engrained in people’s lives, meaning these brands perform well from a personal benefits standpoint.

The global top 10

  1. Google
  2. PayPal
  3. Whatsapp
  4. YouTube
  5. Samsung
  6. Mercedes-Benz
  7. Nivea
  8. Microsoft
  9. Ikea
  10. Lego



There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. shirley whyte 1 Feb 2017

    This doesn’t surprise me as legacy brands already own share of mind and perhaps don’t feel the need to try as hard to engage with the consumer as perhaps emerging brands particularly SME’s.

  2. Arnon Woolfson 1 Feb 2017

    This article and the stats supporting it are no surprise because of how markers are currently viewing ‘content’. It would be interesting to further learn how success is being qualified and what KPI’s are being used here as some of the more ‘traditional’ metrics for measurement may not be fit for purpose. Different briefs require differing solutions, so the role of content varies by campaign. At the same time, I think the word content needs re-defining. Good content is not necessarily an on-line ad!

    The key for brands is not just in creating great content but identifying initially what it is that excites their audience emotionally and from there produce something that resonates with them, ensuring that their content gets seen (which seems obvious but with there being so much content out there, securing the right media distribution strategy has to fit with the audience segmentation).

    Whilst the Gwen Stefani Target ad is being viewed negatively by Havas (as above) I would argue that the halo effect and credit that Target have achieved just through just this one activation is huge. The key is for Target to continue and do more. The fact we are even discussing this campaign in a territory outside of Target’s market shows it has to some degree succeeded, and with 15.5 million views just on one of the various channels this content sits on, I would also argue that the organic reach (let alone paid for TV) is also impressive.

    Content that builds relationships with audiences and content that shapes perceptions around a brand is content that is working. Where are examples such as ‘The Grand Tour’, ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Lemonade’ from Beyonce? They ultimately delivered huge success for 3 major tech brands but are not mentioned in the article.

    The fact that 84% expect brands to produce content is amazing and should be celebrated. I believe if marketers successfully deliver content that hits their consumers on an emotional level and takes them on a journey with the brand, that is enough for the consumer to start being ‘friends’ with that brand, which is what leads to ongoing brand love and a relationship (which is all you need in order to then sell a product or service).

  3. Simon Luff 8 Feb 2017

    Looking at the research I’m struggling to find how they’ve extrapolated proportion of content that is meaningful from a brand perception study. The article says “60% said the content brands currently create is “poor, irrelevant or fails to deliver’.” But this doesn’t equate to saying “60% of content created by brands is ‘just clutter’. I might be missing something, but on the face of it the headline statement is not supported by the research.

  4. goodwroter 9 Feb 2017

    Only 60%? I’m surprised.

  5. Truly Life App 22 Feb 2017

    Quite an insightful read on the kind of content brands curate..

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