The verdict from Havas: 60% of branded content is ‘clutter’

06 Feb 2017

The verdict from Havas: 60% of branded content is ‘clutter’

Media agency Havas recently released their latest ‘Meaningful Brands’ study, a far-reaching consumer survey of 375,000 people across 33 countries, scrutinising the impact of brands on consumers’ lives.

This year’s results are particularly bruising, with 60% of content created by 1,500 of the world’s leading brands dubbed low-impact “clutter” that barely makes an impression on consumers – therefore failing to deliver a significant ROI.

So, why is the majority of branded content failing to make any sort of dent on the collective consumer psyche? The Havas study points to a number of culprits, but primarily:

Brands are failing to convey how they positively impact on their customers’ personal wellbeing and lives – beyond simply explaining basic product benefits.

– Much content created by brands is geared toward entertaining rather than educating – when consumers actively expect retailers to provide content that educates, informs and helps them.

As Maria Garrido, Global Chief Insights & Analytics Officer at Havas, commented:

“Brands get rose-tinted glasses about entertaining people and think that is all consumers want.”

“What brands need to do is break down their content, take a step back and ask, for their industry, what the role of content is. Whether it is to inspire, educating, help, reward, inform or entertain then rank them and work out what is a ‘must have’, where the opportunities are and what they should not be focusing on at all.”

This is a useful way to consider re-framing the approach to content creation – while brands now need to be publishers because their customers both require and expect content, this shouldn’t mean producing content for content’s sake. Identifying key focus areas (and discarding low-impact distractions) is now business-critical.

This begs the question: how can brands ‘de-clutter’ their content strategy? Here are our three recommendations.

Be customer-led

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to create content that delivers real value to customers is to define your content strategy from a consumer-first standpoint. What information do they need, what questions do they ask, and how can you answer those questions in a way that’s engaging and helpful?

Ecommerce retailers can make use of both first-party data (for example, on-site searches or customer service enquiries) and second/third-party data (e.g. long-tail search query research) to understand where their customers have knowledge gaps – and then create content that fills those gaps.

Creating buying and how-to guides aligned with consumer questions is a great way to increase organic traffic, drive conversions and improve brand reputation, with 4 in 10 consumers agreeing that retailers who offer great advice are “more trustworthy” and 48% disclosing that they have purchased an item from a retailer after reading a helpful buying guide.


Quill client Mothercare is a prime example of a retailer implementing a customer-led content strategy with buying and how-to guides.

Go back to basics

The retail brands that consistently perform well in Havas’ Meaningful Brands rankings are those that relentlessly focus on delivering a first-rate customer experience, thereby contributing to the all-important ‘personal wellbeing’ metric – from Amazon’s convenience-led delivery model through to M&S’ canny emphasis on product quality and John Lewis’ dedication to customer service and ethical practices.

This highlights the importance of getting the basics right – at its purest, making sure customers have a positive experience with the brand. From a digital content perspective, this means ensuring that the basic building blocks of the ecommerce experience are fully optimised:

– Is the UI clean, straightforward and mobile-ready?
– Is useful information, like FAQs and delivery details, easily accessible?
– If shipping internationally, is the site fully localised for all the relevant target markets?
– Are product descriptions comprehensive and informative, empowering the customer with all the facts they need to make a purchase decision?

Getting these fundamentals right will increase the likelihood that investment higher up in the funnel isn’t wasted by the time consumers are ready to convert – and that they leave your site with a positive impression.

Make it measurable

Finally, a crucial method for avoiding a spiral of content ‘clutter’ is to maintain focus on performance – ensuring that the success of content is measurable and accountable in terms of ROI.

In practical terms, this means taking a cautious approach to ‘flavour of the month’ platforms and content trends (Vine, anyone?) and honing in on the channels and content types that are most likely to have a tangible and meaningful impact on customers – testing content initiatives for performance and ROI, then adapting approach accordingly.

Interested in finding out how well-optimised your ecommerce content is for driving conversions and customer engagement? Fill out the form below to request a bespoke Quill Quality Score audit of your website.

Lauren Johnson-Ginn @ Quill ContentHead of Marketing Communications at Quill, passionate about all things content and digital.

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