CANNES—Nearly nine in 10 consumers (87 percent) say concerns about the impact of innovation on privacy, the environment and their security will stop them from purchasing new products, according to Edelman’s first annual Earned Brand study, released today at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Consumers continue to embrace innovation but the majority of respondents believe it comes at a personal and societal cost. Globally, privacy is the biggest concern (66 percent) and strongest in Germany (76 percent), the US (75 percent) and Australia (74 percent). Environmental impact is the next biggest concern (58 percent), especially in Germany (66 percent) and Brazil (62 percent). Security (54 percent) is another worry, in particular in Japan (75 percent) and the US (71 percent). 

Despite these concerns, the study revealed that a vast majority (92 percent) of consumers view innovation as an essential component of society’s progress and more than three-quarters (79 percent) believe it’s the responsibility of business, and not academics and universities (36 percent) or individuals (30 percent), to drive innovation. 

However, two-thirds (66 percent) state that business-led innovation is motivated primarily by their desire to make more money. Additionally, the annual Edelman Trust Barometer released last January found more than half (51 percent) believe innovation is happening too quickly.

“Marketers are missing out on a simple truth: acceptance of innovation cannot be bought, it must be earned,” says Richard Edelman, president and CEO, Edelman. “As marketers, we need to evolve our playbook if we want to succeed. We have to address consumers’ fears before we have the permission to sell. Marketing, at the moment, is making it worse.” 

Two in three respondents claim to be bored or frustrated by constantly being told to upgrade their products and 60 percent say manipulations in advertisements leave them unsure of what to believe. Consumers are twice as likely to want to be reassured (66 percent) as to be inspired by a brand (33 percent).

With a lack of reassurance coming from brands consumers are turning to their peers. Most consumers (75 percent) say peer conversations inform their purchase decisions, help them overcome concerns (37 percent), make decisions (44 percent) and warn them of risks (45 percent). 

“The peer’s experience with a product’s innovation has become the evidence consumers are now relying on when making purchase decisions,” said Edelman. “We are using an old model of persuasion by talking at people, telling them they need to constantly upgrade in order to keep up with their peers. We have mistakenly assumed that consumers will continue to be moved primarily by inspiration.”