NEW YORK — While brands increasingly embrace purpose, nearly half of global consumers say they don’t believe companies are delivering on their promises, according to new research from WE Communications.

WE and YouGov’s latest Brands in Motion study, based on a survey of 100,000+ adults in seven markets (Australia, Germany, India, Singapore, South Africa, UK, and US), found that with skepticism among consumers high (48%), it behooves companies to step up reporting progress of their values-led efforts to fully reap the reputational benefits.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) said brands should be transparent in publicly reporting their actions around societal issues, noting that consumers “don’t need brands to solve every problem, but they do need them to own the ones they take on.”  A lack of data and data-driven goals is the No. 1 reason people become skeptical of brands delivering on their values-led commitments.

Additionally, 70% of respondents said they prefer companies focus on multiyear investments on a single cause versus supporting a different issue every year. Globally, consumers prefer that brands place greater emphasis on practical, values-led goals over ambitious ones, with an ideal balance of 59% practical goals to 41% ambitious ones.

This year, however, consumers want to see companies prioritize addressing the cost of living on behalf of employees and consumers. First and foremost, companies should be investing in employee well-being, providing income and employment opportunities and access to health care, respondents said.

And while 68% of respondents said brands should do the right thing in addressing societal issues, they should not do at the expense of product affordability, access, and performance. Only 46% are prepared to higher price for products and services to fund brands’ ESG commitments.

WE, however, stressed the importance of highlighting ESG work through impactful storytelling, even as stakeholders are calling for information, saying that “hard data and calculations are extremely important, but companies must remember not to get lost behind the math.”

By telling the stories of how their work is helping — and providing the tangible, human impacts of their efforts — brands can show how effective their efforts are, the agency said.

“Ultimately, people believe that brands are helping create that better world, but they need to see proof,” said WE executive VP international Rebecca Wilson. “Now is the time for companies to make it happen, make it matter, make it real.”