JWT Europe boss: After Brexit, what now for Britain's brands and "Brand Britain"?

 
Toby Hoare
If companies have to put their prices up, communications should be a top priority (Source: Getty)

What does Brexit mean for British brands and Brand Britain”? The Friday after the referendum, we conducted a field survey of 1,000 people to gauge public attitudes, and try to get a clearer idea of how consumers expect British brands to behave in the wake of the EU vote. Here are some of our findings.

Of those surveyed, 67 per cent called on British brands not to raise the prices of their products and services, with even more urging that such companies should educate consumers on what impact the vote will have on those products and services, and where they come from.

This could be a huge opportunity. Those companies which position themselves as open, progressive and wanting to help customers navigate these choppy waters will be the ones which consumers want to associate with, and buy into.

If companies have to put their prices up, communications should be a top priority.

Indeed, 69 per cent of those polled said that the referendum will have a negative impact on brands, compared with 43 per cent who said that it will have a positive effect. Nearly two in five said they will spend less over the next six months, with 78 per cent fearful that the cost of imports will rise as the value of sterling drops.

Read more: Confidence hurtles downhill at fastest pace in two decades

Almost half of consumers said that the decision to leave the EU would have a negative impact on them personally within the next 12 months.

Young people (aged 18-34), those earning £40,000 or more, and Scottish consumers were the groups most likely to say that the vote to leave would have a negative effect on them. It is more important than ever that brands redouble their efforts to be seen as collaborative, open-minded, and thinking about possibilities which go beyond their own borders if they are to bolster consumer confidence.

Read more: Why the Remain campaign failed to resonate with younger voters

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Brands which cultivate their Britishness could gain from Brexit. Of our respondents, 65 per cent said that British people will feel a stronger sense of national identity and 57 per cent said that there will now be more interest in “buying British”. Nearly three quarters said that British businesses should use more local resources from now on.

And what about “Brand Britain”? Above all, it still stands for heritage, good quality and reliability. However, consumers today are less likely to associate it with courage (28 per cent), compared with 43 per cent in 2012, at the height of the Olympic fervour.

That said, three in four consumers said that the “essence” of Britain will now change, with many saying that this will be for the worse. The risk is that British brands will be viewed differently overseas. That risk is real, and brands need to prepare.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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