Senior Writer and Editor
Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.
The latest edition of Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands survey finds that global consumers are casting a cynical eye, and trust in brands is dipping further and further.

Released this week, Meaningful Brands 2021 found that the gap between consumer expectation and brand delivery is widening, and consumers believe that 75% of the world’s brands could disappear tomorrow and be easily replaced.

The study, now in its twelfth year, surveyed 395,000 people globally, and found that consumers are desperately seeking brands that will make a meaningful difference and take action for the good of society and the planet.

For the first time, the research married Havas Group’s proprietary metrics with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to help brands better deliver on their commitments. 

Key Findings:

Lack of Trust: Less than half (47%) of brands are seen as trustworthy. 73% of consumers believe brands must act now for the good of society and the planet, yet 71% have little faith that they will deliver on their promises.

Doing Good is Good Business: 64% of people (an increase of 10 points since 2019) prefer to buy from companies with a reputation for purpose as well as profit. 53% of people are willing to pay more for a brand that takes a stand.

Empty Promises: Brands who make promises they can’t tangibly deliver on are gambling with a trust deficit and accusations of a new form of ‘CSR washing’. This has the power to impact reputation to a level that can be hard to recover from.

Opportunities for Brands:

Demand for Meaningful Experiences: There are opportunities for brands in the 2021 report. It shows that 66% of consumers want more meaningful experiences from them. It also found that retail, home entertainment and technology companies have most improved their brand value in the eyes of consumers during the pandemic. This is likely due to people seeking fast, affordable deliveries of groceries and other essentials, and experiencing constant engagement with content via tech devices in the home.

Help in times of Crisis: 77% of consumers expect brands to show support to people in times of crisis.  There are immediate opportunities to forge meaningful connections in the short-term across personal benefits; namely, to decrease life’s stressors. However, this past year brought an increase in expectations in three specific areas: more connection, more care for the planet, and more monetary savings and growth.

Diverging Cultural Factors: Cultural intricacies matter (East Meets West): ‘We’ vs. ‘me’ mentality influences expectations across personal and collective benefits in different regions and cultures around the world. USA and Western Europe are most distrustful of brands, while Latin America and Asia believe more in the value brands add to society.

Gen Z Expect Inclusion: Gen Z aren’t afraid to question the ‘rules,’ seek individuality and expect inclusion. This generation is particularly focused on reducing inequalities (across areas including race, sexuality and opportunity) and have more love for brands that take a lead on social issues and embrace diversity.

Demand for Helpful Content: Compared to pre-Covid times, ‘helpful’ content is on the rise as consumers figure out how to navigate their personal new normal. It is important to note, however, that almost half (48%) of all content provided by brands is judged not to be meaningful to consumers.

For more information on Meaningful Brands 2021 or to request a copy of the report, visit

Havas employees can access further Meaningful Brands 2021 insights on Agora

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