How do consumers process the massive influx of information they are subjected to these days? One might assume that they are overwhelmed by the deluge of data and notifications pouring in over email, social media or mobile phone, and upset with it.

But Terry Peigh, Senior Vice-President, Managing Director at the Interpublic Group, insists they actually welcome it.

Many are actually seeking this information out, he says. “The species has, in many ways, evolved with the times, and information has turned into social currency that most consumers are hungry to acquire,” Peigh points out.

This may seem like excellent news for marketers, but Peigh hastens to clarify that with the advent of ‘fake news’ the responsibility has considerably shifted. For brands, the onus of building trust has become more important than ever.

A global word, like hamburger

In Mumbai to attend an event by the International Advertising Association and FCB India, Peigh spoke on the evolving role of consumers and how brands are not catching up with them. Several brands are actually failing to reward consumers who get involved online with them, he says.

“Consumers want brands to listen to them, understand their pain points and act on them. They want brands to improve the services and products they pay for. While some brands do that better than others, many don’t,” says Peigh.

The disconcerting influence of fake news is adding to the distrust. “The English term ‘fake news’ is being used in Russia. It has become a global word like hamburger. I have seen it used in China, where they don’t translate it,” Peigh says with a laugh.

“It is a very dangerous time for brands. As consumers hear the fake news term more and more, they want to know where they can put their trust. Consumers value truth and trustworthiness more than ever,” he adds.

Pointing out that the bar is getting higher for brands, because consumers “have learnt they can’t trust people, can’t trust government, can’t trust businesses or relations or sports,” Peigh says trust in advertising too has dropped significantly with the advent of fake news.

Every message of the brand should be on trust building. “Is what I am doing building trust or hindering trust? Am I being open about all my marketing avenues? Am I talking about my supply chain, my employment practices” — these are the questions brands need to ask, he insists.

Brands need to put all that information out. More so when consumers complain. Not enough brands are responding though and many are not listening to their consumers, contends Peigh.

Consumers gain confidence in the brand when they receive truthful information. When marketers ensure their techniques are honest and enthusiastic they can help energise their brand, he says.