Partner Up

Anna Otieno, Head of Research, Strategy & Insights

Carli Gernot, Content Development Specialist

What’s Up

The last few years have proven that consumers are driven by value as well as values — they make decisions based on DEI, sustainability, and sociopolitical issues, alongside how much a product or service costs. As a result, more businesses are under pressure to deliver authentic claims and follow through on commitments made around social issues and climate-friendly credentials.

One way we see companies authenticate motives and commitments is by partnering with other brands, companies, and individuals in collaborations that highlight the business goals.

We’ve seen adidas partner with software as a service (SaaS) company TrusTrace to boost transparency around sustainability and supply chain issues; American Express partnered with TikTok to support small businesses ahead of holiday shopping, while buy now, pay later (BNPL) brand Fly Now Pay Later collaborated with Worldline to streamline the integration and adoption process of BNPL for global travel merchants.

Companies are looking for ways to regain consumer trust — teaming up with non-profits that align with a brand’s core principles is a surefire way to bring trust back into the relationship. According to Nonprofits Source Ultimate List of Charitable Giving Statistics for 2022, 90% of corporations say they gain trust when partnering with reputable nonprofit organizations, and 89% believe such partnerships enhance their ability to drive societal impact.

And then there are influencer collaborations, which Acorn knows all about. Brands large and small are working with influencers on social media to legitimize messaging, increase customer reach, and inject some real life authenticity into a brand personality. For consumers, user-generated content often leads to more time spent with that content.

Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends 2022 survey shows that 50% of adults say they always end up spending more time watching user-generated content than they had planned (a number that jumps to 70% among Gen Zs) and 41% of respondents say they spend more time watching user-generated video content than they do TV shows and movies on video streaming services — a proportion which grows to around 60% for Gen Z and Millennials.

What It Means

While partnerships may take time to establish and nurture, we’re seeing more tools that make it easier to work with others. YouTube will begin sharing revenue with creators in an expansion of the platform’s Partner Program starting February 1; in December, Apple launched Freeform, a new app created to facilitate creative collaborations; and towards the end of 2022, more social media platforms rolled out tools for creators meant to support influencers’ mental health. Pinterest launched a partnership with Headspace to support its creators’ mental health and Instagram recently introduced “kindness reminders” which asks users to "keep Instagram a supportive place" when messaging a creator.

A healthy, supportive community will produce more effective partnerships and brands across industries can profit from teaming up with influencers, non-profits, and other corporate entities that seek to further enrich their markets and communities. Partnerships will be most profitable when they incorporate, verify, or amplify the values consumers look for most.

Heading into 2023, business leaders can find success by building relationships with individuals and groups which help them stand out in their industries and increase positive influence, especially in crowded and competitive markets.

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