Digital & Social Media

Innovation: Brands Want to Provide It, Consumers Want More


Is your brand innovative? If not, it’s very likely you’ll fall afoul of your customers. In the 2014 Authenticity Gap survey of U.S. companies, FleishmanHillard and Lepere Analytics discovered impatience among consumers with what they perceived as a lack of innovation coming out of companies and entire industries.

Of 20 industries reviewed, only two were able to squeak out a positive rating showing that they were exceeding the expectations of their customers — packaged foods (1.1 percent) and managed healthcare and health insurance (0.8 percent). And neither was very persuasive.

AuthenticityGap_chart 1

Seven of the 20 received double-digit negative ratings, indicating that they are underperforming the expectations of their most knowledgeable consumers, which is the pool that is surveyed. Logging in the worst performance was the electronics industry (negative 29 percent) and computers and computing (negative 21.6 percent).

AuthenticityGap_chart 2

The Authenticity Gap study seeks to measure how well consumer experiences with companies live up to their expectations. More than 150 brands are included in the poll. Qualifying respondents are polled on three key measures:

  • Expectations of the category
  • Actual experience with brands
  • Perceptions of brand momentum

The momentum score is particularly useful because it’s forward looking and tells a brand whether its expert consumers expect it to be gaining or losing ground in the coming months. It serves as an early warning system for companies at a time when many metrics still tend to look backward.


The survey measures three categories of three authenticity drivers each — customer benefits, management behavior and society outcomes.

Under customer benefits:

  • Better value
  • Customer Care
  • Innovation

Under management behavior:

  • Credible communications
  • Consistent performance
  • Doing right

Under society outcomes:

  • Care of environment
  • Community impact
  • Employee care

Three interesting stats from the industry profiles:

  • In an age of skepticism and mistrust, only one industry — chemicals — failed to score a positive rating when asked if consumers felt the management was “doing right” — although admittedly the scores of six were less than 1 percent. (Packaged foods; managed healthcare/health insurance; medical devices and diagnostics; retailers; energy and energy services; and industrial machinery)
  • Where there were six double-digit negative ratings for industries, there was only one positive double-digit finding out of 180 industry metrics. That was the software industry’s mark for “doing right.” The six double-digit negatives were all in innovation.
  • There was a rise in momentum scores for both the top and bottom 10, indicating an increase in overall optimism.