TRA study reveals how brands can foster effective connections

TRA - Colleen Ryan

Only 2% of Australians spontaneously mentioned personalisation as something that makes them feel connected to brands.

Brands can effectively foster connections, both online and offline, by identifying and leveraging people’s shared interests

The study into connection by research and insights company TRA aimed to discover if brands are connecting with their audiences.

The multidisciplinary work brought together cultural analysis, a qualitative study, and nationally representative surveys of more than 2,000 people across Australia and New Zealand to understand how people are connecting with brands and what the future of connection looks like.

Among the top factors that make people feel connected to brands include loyalty schemes (46%), supporting causes they care about (39%), and partnerships with groups or interests they feel connected with (27%), according to the study.

Colleen Ryan, partner at TRA, said the good news is that although some people feel connected to brands, there is a clear opportunity to deepen this connection.

“Connection is a feeling – a shared feeling. We tend to think of people connecting by hanging out together in physical spaces. It was surprising to find that posting online increases people’s sense of connection across everything, virtual and real,” she said.

“People have developed a new skill set that allows them to create connections with people they have never met, people who share their interests, which removes the hard work that is often required to make a connection face to face. It cuts out the need for small talk. Brands have evolved a different mastery, one that is designed to deliver reach. Broadcast skills are, by definition, created around universal principles and common denominators.”

Among younger demographics, the study found partnerships with other favoured companies are particularly influential.

People feel connected when brands get involved with things that interest them or partner with groups or other brands that share their interests. This contrasts with the one-to-one personalisation that many brands are moving towards.

Only 2% of people in Australia and 5% in New Zealand spontaneously mention personalisation as something that makes them feel connected to brands.

The TRA research also revealed that adults who post online have an enhanced sense of connection compared to those who do not regularly use social media.

Adults who post online have an enhanced sense of connection, not only in virtual environments but also in real-world interactions, in comparison to those who do not regularly use social media. People also felt two to three times more connected to community groups, sports teams and religious groups.

“Our connection study delved deeper to identify how brands can create emotional connections with their customers,” Ryan continued.

“The research confirmed we are in a new age of connection. Human connection has adapted, and we have developed a new set of skills to connect with people with the same interests and world views as us.

“It’s not demographics, it’s not life stage, it’s not even platforms that connect us. It’s interests. Instead of trying to speak to everyone through common denominators or demographics, brands need to get in the crosshairs of their audience’s interesting interests.

“By using this approach brands will forge connect ions with customers on their terms – and they can do it at a scale that drives real growth.”

To understand how brands can uncover these connections, TRA’s cultural strategy and data teams developed a methodology by simply building a richer more relevant context of what surrounds a customer and a brand, called an “echo-system map”.

Ryan explained an “echo-system map” shows individual shared interests and the why behind the connections.

“Using this, we can identify unique and interesting points where audience tastes, interests, and values overlap – often in unexpected ways.

“To create the map, we ask a person about their range of interests and influences, their heroes and villains, and the why behind these to collect rich data. The result is an interactive diagram of connections and a world of possibility for marketers and their brands that can be used to gain inspiration on how to make emotional connections with customers.

 “For brands, these smaller shared spaces of connection can bridge the gap between mass and personalised marketing.”

See also: TRA makes six hires across Sydney and Melbourne

Top image: Colleen Ryan

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