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How truthfulness influences voting and purchase decisions

Almost 50% of global consumers say that brands are less truthful than they were 20 years ago, writes Rodney Collins, regional director EMEA, McCann Truth Central.

The research looked at the connection between truth and politics and what brands can learn from this

The research looked at the connection between truth and politics and what brands can learn from this

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Anyone witness to the recent US presidential debates will have noticed the proliferation of real-time fact checking services.

The relationship between truth and politics is crucial in today’s digitized political landscape - and consumers are increasingly prepared to demand truthfulness not only of political officials but also of brands.

As the 'Truth Well Told’ agency we set out to discover the connection between truth and politics and what brands stand to learn from it today.

When asked about truth in brands, nearly 50% of global consumers observed that brands were less truthful than 20 years ago.

Compared to 20 years ago, would you say that politicians in general are more truthful, less truthful or as truthful?

Source: McCann Truth Central. Base: All respondents

Compared to 20 years ago, would you say that brands and companies in general are more truthful, less truthful or as truthful?

Source: McCann Truth Central. Base: All respondents

Yet almost 90% of consumers say that the truthfulness of a brand or company plays a part in their decision to buy, or not buy, a product or service. 

Although people say they value truthfulness both from politicians and from consumer brands, they said they were less tolerant of brands that veered from truthful marketing.

When you think about buying a product or service, does the truthfulness of the brand or company play a part in your decision?

Source: McCann Truth Central. Base: All respondents

In fact, the study revealed that consumers are looking for brands to have a point of view on the world.

In the UK, three out of four respondents agreed with the statement that, "Brands must stand up for what they believe in." At the top of the list of issues for brands to champion: climate change and healthcare. 

When it came down to nominating candidates for the task, Brits selected British brands as most trustworthy. When asked which established institution was most capable of running their country, Brits chose the BBC, while Americans chose Consumer Reports, and Indians selected the Indian Army.

Further, when asked if Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft or Virgin Airlines were to "run the country, instead of a politician" the number one brand choice for Brits was Virgin Airlines, followed by Amazon then Apple.

While Steve Jobs is clearly out of the running for political leadership, the implications that technology and social media have for politics are enduring. Citizens and consumers across the world are aware of the instrumentality of social media in forging greater truthfulness.

Indeed, nearly half of our 3,000 global respondents agreed that ‘Social media is making every country a democracy, whether they like it or not.’

And as one of the world’s largest democracies heads to the polls, politicians would do well to bear in mind the appetite consumers have for more truth served with their monthly ration of politics.

In fact, nearly 75% of consumers globally said they would sacrifice a personal pleasure (like chocolate, alcohol, or sex) for a month if it meant making politicians in their country more honest.

Rodney Collins, regional director EMEA, McCann Truth Central


These findings are drawn from Truth Central’s recent Truth About Politics study; Truth Central is the global intelligence unit of McCann Erickson. The study was based on an online quantitative survey of 3,000 respondents in the United States, the United Kingdom, and India, supplemented by focus groups with U.S. voters.

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