New Survey: Only 10% of Americans trust business to behave ethically.

17 09 2015

96 percent of Americans believe it is important for companies to ensure their employees behave ethically but only 10 percent have trust and confidence in major companies to do what is right.

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Pharmaceuticals and health insurance were viewed to be the least trustworthy industries. The most trustworthy were thought to be manufacturing, technology and large retailing.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International’s 2015 Public Affairs Pulse survey polled 1,600 Americans on their attitudes about corporate behavior, big business and small business, the trustworthiness of companies and industries, levels of regulation, and lobbying and politics. The study found the vast majority of the public expects the business sector to think beyond profits and be valuable components of society.

Other interesting findings include:

  • More than nine in 10 Americans say businesses need to protect the environment, including 76 percent who feel it is very important that businesses limit their environmental damage.
  • 88 percent believe companies should contribute to charities
  • 85 percent believe they should take a leadership role in helping society in ways that go beyond their business operations
  • 39 percent believe it is very important that businesses take more responsibility in helping the government solve problems.

How can companies communicate what they’re doing for these causes? Social media is reportedly the best way that companies can communicate what they are doing for social causes, with 45 percent calling it very effective and 38 percent calling it somewhat effective. Not surprisingly, those under 50 years old were more strongly in favor of social media communication than those over 50.

Only 15 percent say social media has a significant influence on their opinions, while almost 40 percent say it does not influence their opinion at all. Personal experiences as a customer or employee of a major company were the top factors influencing people’s opinions of a business.

Access more of the Princeton Survey here.  http://pac.org/pulse/

 





TetraPak: Most U.S. Consumers Would Choose Renewable Packaging to Help Mitigate Climate Change

17 08 2015

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A new survey suggests U.S. consumers are largely unaware of the severity of global resource scarcity, but their choice of packaging would be impacted if they had readily available information on how renewable materials mitigate climate change.

Tetra Pak and the Global Footprint Network conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers about their grocery spending habits. An overwhelming 86 percent agreed that if they knew the use of renewable packaging contributed to reducing carbon emissions, it would impact their choice of packaging. Women were particularly motivated to choose renewable packaging options based on this knowledge: 90 percent of females said they would modify their purchasing habits while 77 percent of men did.

According to TetraPak, consumers indicated that they are ready to be held as accountable as government and industry for climate change, and they are ready to support actions to mitigate its harmful effects. While 81 percent of respondents said that no one group is responsible for addressing natural resource constraints, the majority also believes that no single group is doing enough.

“Our survey confirms our belief that with information and education, consumers will respond favorably to the need to pay closer attention to resource challenges and change their individual actions, including making more environmentally responsible decisions around packaging,” said Elizabeth Comere, Director of Environment & Government Affairs for Tetra Pak US and Canada.

The survey also asked respondents about specific actions they would be willing to take to conserve natural resources. The top three responses were:

  • buying local grown food as much as possible (75 percent)
  • only buying as much food as a household was going to consume (72 percent)
  • seeking out food or beverage products that come in renewable packaging (69 percent).

Daily purchasing choices can make a difference, said Mathis Wackernagel, president and co-founder of Global Footprint Network.

“How we meet our basic needs — including food — is a powerful way to shape sustainability. Eating food from local sources and less emphasis on animal-based diets can lower the Ecological Footprint,” he said. “When we buy packaged foods, opting for packaging made from renewable materials also contributes to a lower Ecological Footprint.”

These findings coincide with Earth Overshoot Day, an indicator of when humanity has used up nature’s ‘budget’ for the entire year. Global Footprint Network announced Wednesdaythat we have overshot faster than ever: Overshoot Day moved from early October in 2000 to August 13th this year.

This survey follows Tetra Pak’s launch of the first carton made entirely from renewable packaging materials last year, and is the latest evidence that consumers desire more sustainable packaging options.

 

Original article from Sustainable Brands





Nielsen: Doing Well By Doing Good

3 07 2014

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55% of global respondents in Nielsen’s corporate social responsibility survey were willing to pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact—an increase from 45% in 2011.  However, people living in North America lag the global average, with only 42% saying they would be willing to pay extra – a 7% increase from three years ago.

As continued impactful climate change events and social consciousness raises people’s concern about companies’ impact on society, the importance of brand’s corporate responsibility reputations will continue to rise.  Brands which act responsibly and communicate those actions effectively will increasingly be the ones rewarded by consumers.

 

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Images:  Future Leaders in Philanthropy, Nielsen





86% of Americans Expect Food and Beverage Brands To Actively Help Recycle Their Packaging.

12 11 2013

Recycling-binsAn overwhelming majority of Americans want brands to get engaged in creating and implementing recycling programs, according to a new survey of 1000 adults by the Carton Council of North America (CCNA).

In a statement, Jason Pelz, VP of environment at Tetra Pak North America, and VP of recycling projects for the CCNA  said, “First and foremost, this survey reiterates the importance of including a recycling message on product packaging.  In an increasingly competitive and green‑minded climate, consumers are revealing they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages.”

U.S. consumers also indicated that they look first to the products they purchase for environmental information, ahead of other resources, with the vast majority (76 percent) consulting a product’s packaging to learn if a package is recyclable, followed by the product’s company website (33 percent) and the consumer’s city website (26 percent).

Importantly, 45% say their loyalty to food and beverage brands would be impacted by that brand’s engagement with environmental causes.

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The Carton Council is leading a national effort to increase access to carton recycling in the U.S. In 2009, 21 million U.S. households had access to carton recycling in 26 states. Now, 52.5 million households in 45 states can recycle cartons, a 150 percent increase that includes 64 of the nation’s top 100 cities. Food and beverage brands that use cartons for their products are encouraged to join this effort, especially in helping promote carton recycling to their customers. CCNA can provide companies with tools to inform their customers — from the first step, which is adding the recycling logo to packages and recycling information on their websites, to an extensive list of possibilities beyond that.





The Aspirational Consumer: 2.5 Billion People Redefining Responsible Consumption

8 10 2013

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A new global consumer study confirms the rise of nearly 2.5 billion consumers globally who are uniting style, social status and sustainability values to redefine consumption.

According to the report by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility : The 2013 Aspirational Consumer Index – more than one-third of consumers globally (36.4%) identify as Aspirationals, defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the best interest of society (58%). The study draws from a telephone and in-person survey of more than 21,000 consumers across 21 international markets conducted in April 2013.

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According to Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, “Aspirationals are materialists who define themselves in part through brands and yet they believe they have a responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society.  By engaging Aspirational consumers, brands can further the shift toward more sustainable consumption and influence behavior change at scale.”

Key characteristics of Aspirational consumers include:

  • Trust in Brands: Nearly six in ten Aspirational consumers globally say they “trust global companies to act in the best interest of society” (58%), compared with 52% of all consumers;
  • Seek Style and Status: Three-fourths of Aspirational consumers say “I want to stand out by the way I look, my style” (73%), compared to 53% of all consumers;
  • Positive Influencers: Nearly nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies” (88%), compared to 63% of all consumers;
  • Empowered Shoppers: Nearly eight in ten Aspirational consumers say “shopping for new things excites me” (78%), compared to 48% of all consumers, and believe they “can change how a company behaves based on my purchase decisions” (78%), compared with 66% of all consumers;
  • Responsible Consumers: Nine in ten Aspirational consumers say “I believe we need to consume less to preserve the environment for future generations” (92%), compared to 75% of all consumers, and that they are “willing to pay more for products produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way” (91%) compared to 64% of all consumers;
  • Young and Urban: Demographically, Aspirational consumers make up the largest percentage of Millennial (40%) and GenX (37%) generations, compared to 32% and 33% in the general population, respectively, and nearly six and ten (59%) live in cities; and
  • Strength in Emerging Markets: Countries with the largest populations of Aspirational consumers include China (46%), Nigeria (45%), Pakistan (44%), India (42%), Australia (41%), Canada (40%), Indonesia (38%), Greece (37%), France (36%), USA (36%), Turkey (35%) and the UK (34%).

“Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire,” said Raphael Bemporad, co-founder and chief strategy officer at brand innovation consultancy BBMG. “With Aspirationals, the sustainability proposition has changed from being the ‘right thing to do’ to being the ‘cool thing to do,’ and brands have a profound opportunity to harness sustainable design and societal values to inspire the next generation of commerce and create positive impact in the world.”

“For decades, green marketers have been speaking to the wrong consumers, assuming that by engaging the most committed ‘advocates’ we would create significant business growth, cultural relevance and change at scale,” Bemporad added. “What makes Aspirationals so compelling is that they combine an authentic commitment to sustainability with a love of shopping, design and social status, aligning economic, cultural and social forces to shift the way we shop.”

“With 2.5 billion consumers worldwide, Aspirationals offer an important opportunity to redefine sustainable consumption,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility. “Like never before, brands can engage Aspirationals to pioneer new models and practices that can deliver economic growth while reducing negative impacts on the environment.”

 

Read the original press release on CSR Wire.





Carbon Trust: 2/3 of public unable to name businesses that take sustainability seriously.

23 09 2013

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In a recent survey of more than 1,800 adults in the United Kingdom, The Carbon Trust Fund found that 68% of people were unable to name a company that is taking sustainability seriously.

In addition, just 5% of respondents see businesses as being most effective in helping the environment.  Despite the significant efforts many companies across the world are making to turn their business operations to more responsible and sustainable entities, the UK study underscores how poorly those companies are communicating their actions.

According to Tom Delay, the chief executive of Carbon Trust:

“While it’s clear that consumers still care about the environmental future, their perspective on where the responsibility falls is skewed. It cannot be solely down to environmental groups to shoulder the weight of protecting our planet’s natural resources. Businesses have an enormous role to play here and need to be seen to be doing their part.  As businesses look for more ways to grow, sustainability should become a golden opportunity for investment, allowing them to become more resilient to future environmental resource shocks and to cut their costs and grow their revenues. The smart companies will invest now and put sustainability inside their businesses.”

The same survey of UK adults did have some encouraging signs regarding concern for the environment.   The demand for green products appears to be increasing with only 6% saying they are less likely to buy a sustainable product and/or service than five years ago while almost three in ten (27%) said they are more likely.   Increased concern about the personal impact of what they buy on the environment was the most important reason for this (45%) and 43% of the public surveyed said they lead a more sustainable life than five years ago.





Made Movement: Buy 5% more American made products for 1 million jobs

20 08 2013

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Alex Bogusky, our old friend – reformed advertising creative director turned consumer advocate, has launched a new campaign for the Made Movement challenging Americans to buy 5% more American made products.  The result of the Made Movement 5% pledge will yield one million jobs for Americans.

Bogusky has created a video explaining the campaign and asks viewers to share the video with two people.  You can watch the Million Jobs Project video here.

According to an article in USA Today, Bogusky says “there’s hippie value now to Made in America.  Red, white and blue are the new green.”  But he cautions in the video, “Sometimes, even if you think a brand is American, even if there’s an American flag on the package, it might not be made here.  You have to pay attention.”

You can read the full article in USA Today here.

USA Today: Ad guru attacks outsourcing, seeks to save jobs





Cone: Green Gap Shows Actions Don’t Align With Intent

6 04 2013

Green-Question-300x300In the release of its latest 2013 Cone Communications Green Gap Trend Tracker, a record-high 71 percent of Americans consider the environment when they shop, up from 66 percent in 2008*. However, Americans continue to struggle with their role in the life-cycle of products with an environmental benefit.

90% said they believe it’s their responsibility to properly use and dispose of these products, but action isn’t aligning with intent:

• Only 30% say they often use products in a way that achieves the intended environmental benefit

• 42% say they dispose of products in a way that fulfills the intended environmental benefit

• 45% of consumers actively seek out environmental information about the products they buy.

Despite the lack of consistent follow-through, consumers are showing an inclination to learn more.

• 71% of Americans report they regularly read and follow instructions on how to properly use or dispose (66%) of a product.

• 41% said they perform additional research to determine how best to utilize and discard a product for maximum benefit.

Responsible Brands Communicate and Facilitate Change

In a statement,  Liz Gorman, Cone Communications’ senior vice president of Sustainable Business Practices said “Consumers are ready to follow through on the intended use or disposal of environmentally preferred products, but they need companies’ help.  This is the next evolution of environmental marketing. Clear and candid communication can ensure consumers understand the important role they play in minimizing the impacts associated with the product’s lifecycle.  The new green gap is about consumers only taking the idea of responsibility so far, despite feeling responsible for proper use and disposal.  They’re buying with the environment in mind, but they rely on companies to provide access and education to truly ‘close the loop.”

Consumer understanding of environmental messages also presents an obstacle.

Although more than 60 percent of respondents say they understand the environmental terms companies use in their advertising, the majority continue to erroneously believe common expressions such as “green” or “environmentally friendly” mean a product has a positive (40%) or neutral (22%) impact on the environment. Fewer were able to correctly identify these terms as meaning the product has a lighter impact than other similar products (22%) or less than it used to (2%). Despite the attention given to product development and environmental marketing, consumer misunderstanding of “green” claims has remained flat at around 60 percent since 2008.

• 71% of consumers wish companies would do a better job helping them understand environmental terms. Although they feel overwhelmed by the volume of messages in the marketplace, consumers prioritize authenticity over perfection and will punish companies if they feel misled:

• 48% percent say they are overwhelmed by environmental messages

• 69% say it’s okay if a company is not environmentally perfect as long as it is honest

• 78% say they will boycott a product if they discover an environmental claim to be misleading

Abridged from a report on the research in a statement from Cone Communications.  Read the full press release here.

Click to access 2013_cone_communications_green_gap_trend_tracker_press_release_and_fact_sheet.pdf





Oxfam: How The Top Ten Food Companies Rank As Responsible Brands.

28 02 2013

“The social and environmental policies of the world’s ten biggest food and beverage giants are not fit for modern purpose and need a major shake-up.”

– Oxfam Statement

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Oxfam released results today ranking the world’s Top Ten food and beverage companies on responsible brand behaviors – evaluating their performance on key measures such as land and water use, response to climate change, treatment of workers, farmers and women, and transparency.

According to the Oxfam report – Behind The Brands – “all of the big ten companies have acknowledged the need for a more just food system and have made commitments to that end.  But the Behind the Brands scorecard shows these very same companies are currently failing to take the necessary steps in their policies to ensure the well-being of those working to produce their products.  Instead they continue to profit from a broken system they should be helping to fix.”

Among several areas the Behind The Brands study identifies as serious improvement:

  • None of the big ten companies have policies to protect local communities from land and water grabs along their supply chains.
  • Companies are not taking significant steps to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate change affect their supplier farmers.
  • Most do not provide small-scale farmers with equal access to their supply changes or ensure they are receiving a fair price for their goods
  • Companies are overly secretive about their agricultural supply chains, making it difficult to verify and monitor sustainability goals and claims.
  • Only few efforts are in place to address the exploitation of female small-scale producers and farmers in their supply chains.

“None of the 10 biggest food and beverage companies are moving fast enough to turn around a 100-year legacy of relying on cheap land and labor to make mass products at huge profits, with unacceptably high social and environmental costs,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director for Oxfam International, in a statement. “No company emerges with a good overall score. Across the board, all 10 companies need to do much more.”





Aspirational Consumers: Balancing Style and Sustainability

5 02 2013

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A new study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility finds that a majority of consumers across six international markets are seeking to reconcile their desire for shopping and style with responsibility to the environment and society through their purchases. According to the report, Rethinking Consumption: Consumers and the Future of Sustainability, nearly two-thirds of consumers globally equate shopping with happiness (63%) while also feeling a sense of responsibility for society (65%). The study draws from an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

In exploring the intersection of consumer values, motivations and behaviors, the study identifies four consumer segments on the sustainability spectrum: highly committed Advocates (14%); style and social status-seeking Aspirationals (37%); price and performance-minded Practicals (34%) and less engaged Indifferents (16%).

Aspirationals represent hundreds of millions of consumers globally, and are the largest consumer segment in Brazil, China and India. More than any other segment, Aspirationals care about style (65%) and social status (52%), and equate shopping with happiness (70%). Yet, they are also among the most likely to believe that we need to “consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (73%), and feel “a sense of responsibility to society” (73%).

Aspirationals are looking for brands to provide solutions that both improve their lives and serve society as a whole,” said Pam Alabaster, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, Sustainable Development & Public Affairs at L’Oréal USA, a sponsor of the study. “Understanding this dynamic tension provides the greatest opportunity for companies to create positive impact through consumers’ purchasing decisions and social actions.”

Aspirationals represent the persuadable mainstream on the path to more sustainable behavior. They love to shop, are influenced by brands, yet aspire to be sustainable in their purchases and actions,” said Raphael Bemporad, Co-Founder of brand and innovation consultancy BBMG. “This consumer segment represents a significant opportunity for forward-looking brands to unite consumerism with social and environmental values.”

“The ideals, influence and size of the Aspirationals segment — particularly in developing markets — is what makes them so compelling for sustainable brands,” said Mark Lee, Executive Director at think tank and strategic advisory firm SustainAbility. “But simply helping people to consume more products that are incrementally ‘better’ is not necessarily the answer. Leading companies will seek to meet the needs of the Aspirationals beyond just products by delivering value through services, sharing, expertise and purposeful engagement.”

Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan, added: “In our fifteen years of market analysis, we’ve never seen an opportunity like this. The Aspirationals will chart the future of sustainable consumption, as long as their favorite brands offer them what they want.”

Developed by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, The Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption. The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.





Re-Thinking Consumption: 66% of consumers agree we need to consume less to improve the environment.

29 11 2012

 

According to the newly released The Regeneration Consumer Study, two-thirds of consumers in six countries say that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” and that they feel “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society”.

In a statement, Mark Lee, Executive Director at SustainAbility said, “Our economy and natural environment are facing unprecedented stresses as scarce resources are stretched to meet growing needs.  Through the Regeneration Consumer Study, we are revealing how consumer attitudes, behaviors and collaboration can help enterprising brands as they work to innovate smarter, safer, cleaner and greener solutions.”

The findings are based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.

Among other key insights in the global consumer research:

  • Nine in ten consumers believe it is extremely or very important for companies to address safe drinking water.
  • 67% are interested in sharing their ideas with companies to help them develop better products or create new solutions.
  • 75% of consumers globally agree they would purchase products that are environmentally or socially responsible if they didn’t cost more.

The study also draws five key implications for marketers to connect with these consumers who are demonstrating strong desire for responsible brands.  In summary, they are:

1.  Deliver total value.

2. Connect back story to brand story

3. Embrace sustainable brand innovation.

4. Harness consumer collaboration.

5. Unleash the power of tribes.

 

Read a copy of the research report here.

 

Congratulations to the drivers behind the research and their sponsors.  Learn about the developers and their sponsors below:

Developed by BBMGGlobeScan and SustainAbilityThe Regeneration Consumer Study is an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States) conducted in September and October 2012. Drawn from consumer research panels, global data are comparable to having a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percent. Analysis of country-level data reflects a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

The study is part of the The Regeneration Roadmap, a collaborative and multi-faceted thought leadership initiative designed to engage the private sector in advancing sustainable development by improving sustainability strategy, increasing credibility and delivering results at greater speed and scale.

Presenting Sponsors of The Regeneration Roadmap are BMW Group and SC Johnson. Sponsors include Cisco, DuPont, Interface and Pfizer. The Regeneration Consumer Study is sponsored by Brown-FormanCampbell Soup CompanyItauL’OréalShell and Starbucks.

 

 

 





SIF Foundation: Sustainable and Responsible Investing Up 22%

27 11 2012

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Sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) accounts for 11.23 percent of all assets under professional management in the United States at year end 2011. According to the report, $3.74 trillion out of $33.3 trillion of investment assets is held by individuals, institutions, investment companies or money managers that practice SRI strategies.

This total, an increase of 22 percent since year end 2009, reflects growing investor interest in considering environmental, community, other societal or corporate governance (ESG) issues to refine how they make decisions as they select and manage their portfolios or raise their voices as shareholders.

The new 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States, released today by the US SIF Foundation, found that the total net assets of both mutual funds and alternative investment funds that consider ESG criteria increased significantly:

Mutual Funds: $641 billion, a doubling from 2010.

Alternative Investment Funds: $132 billion, a 250 percent increase from the corresponding assets identified at year-end 2009.

The report also found sizable growth in financial institutions that have a mission of serving low and middle-income communities:

Community Development Banks: $30.1 billion, a 74 percent increase since 2010.

Credit Unions: $17.1 billion, a 54 percent increase from 2010.

Importantly, the report found a significant increase of institutional investor assets involved ESG criteria related to environmental issues since the last report published in 2010.  It now represents $636 billion, 43 percent increase from 2010. Climate change is now considered by 23 percent of institutional asset owners incorporating ESG criteria.

In a statement, Lisa Woll, CEO of US SIF said, “The 2012 Trends report demonstrates that we are moving closer to a sustainable and equitable economy.  From the growth in mutual funds that consider ESG criteria and increased investment in community development banks and credit unions to increasingly large votes on shareholder proposals and the availability of sustainable investment options across asset classes, SRI strategies are on the rise in the United States. We are pleased that this report details many important and interrelated trends that indicate that sustainable and responsible investing will continue its impressive growth and impact.”

About US SIF:

The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment is the US membership association for professionals, firms, institutions and organizations engaged in sustainable and responsible investing. The 2012 Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States is a publication of the US SIF Foundation, a 501c3 organization that undertakes educational, research and programmatic activities to advance the mission of US SIF.

 





GfK Green Gauge®: Green is going mainstream, but don’t expect a premium.

24 09 2012

In their new Green Gauge research released today, GfK reports significant progress in the developing green culture in the United States, but also highlight findings that many consumers are increasingly resistant to pay more for “green products”.

In a statement, Timothy Kenyon–Director for the Green Gauge survey–said, “Green awareness is indeed pervasive – but consumers can perceive ‘green’ claims as a negative in some contexts.  For example, while terms like organic and recyclable have strong positive resonance, they are often associated with higher prices. Understanding consumers’ triggers and the limits of their commitment to green action is essential for marketers and researchers alike.”

The study shows that 73% of US consumers have purchased a product made from organic materials in the past 12 months. Categories that have seen notable increases since 2007 in organic buying include food, household cleaning, apparel, and pet food and supplies.

In addition, 93% of Americans say they have done something to conserve energy in their households in the past year, and 77% have done something to save household water during the same timeframe.

The study also reports that digital media are helping to amplify this green awareness:

29% of smartphone users have turned to an app in the past year to help reduce their environmental impact – a figure that jumps to 44% for Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and 38% for Generation Y (ages 23 to 32).  Most-cited types of apps used include public transportation timetables and home energy monitors.

In addition, 18% of consumers say that social networking sites are a “major source” of green information for them (up four points from 2011), with another 33% citing it as a “minor source.”

GfK points out that green awareness and engagement do not necessarily translate to green purchase. Compared to 2008, the proportion of US consumers willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives has gone down in a variety of key areas — from cars that are less polluting to the air (down from 62% to 49%) to energy efficient lightbulbs (down from 70% to 60%).  (examples are cited below in this infographic from the Advertising Age article linked below).

According to GFK, The Green Gauge® Report is the only nationwide, long-term syndicated study of consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the environment. Green Gauge gives marketers an exclusive look at how America’s concern for environmental issues can affect brands and organizations.

Read a related article to the research in Advertising Age here.





Vestas Survey: 85% of consumers want more renewable energy.

18 09 2012

Vestas has released this year’s Global Consumer Wind Study, surveying 24,000 consumers worldwide about their attitude toward renewable energy.  The study shows that 79% per cent of consumers prefer renewable energy, that 62% are more willing to buy products produced with renewable energy, and not least that consumers indicate a willingness to pay a premium price for such products.

Other key findings in the research include:

  • 74% would get a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were the primary energy source used in its production.
  • 49% of respondents express willingness to pay more for products made with renewable energy.
  • 62% of respondents say they would be more willing to buy products from brands that use wind energy production.
  • 52% of consumers believe that the transparency of the energy mix used in product production is too low.
  • 45% of consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top 3 challenges facing the world today.

Importantly for brand marketers, the research also studied the impact of renewable energy use on brand perceptions.  28% of people surveyed indicated they would get a “much more positive perception” of the brand if the brand used wind energy as its primary source.

According to the research report, “This year’s Global Consumer Wind Study indicates that brands need their core business to be green in order to reap the full benefits of consumers’ preferences. The research suggests that consumers have raised the threshold for being “green,” and that consumers are more likely to choose brands that integrate sustainability into their core business operations by sourcing renewable energy, and to recommend those brands to other potential purchasers.”

You can read the full summary of the Global Consumer Wind Study here.





Gibbs & Soell: Only 21% of Americans Believe Business Is Committed To Going Green.

2 05 2012

In their 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability study, the research demonstrates that public doubt that corporations are making a sincere commitment to going green continues to run high.

Despite their skepticism, the majority (71 percent) of consumers wants to know more about what companies are doing to become sustainable and green, and 75% feel the media are more likely to report on green business when the news is bad rather than good.

Read the summary report and news release announcing the results of 2012 Gibbs & Soell Sense & Sustainability Study at these links.

Key Findings:

  •  The general public and business leaders remain skeptical of corporate America’s commitment to sustainability. Only 21 percent of U.S. adults and 25 percent of executives believe that a majority of businesses (“most,” “almost all,” or “all”) are committed to “going green” – defined as “improving the health of the environment by implementing more sustainable business practices and/or offering environmentally-friendly products or services.”
  • While one-third of executives report having no green steward, up from years past, there is a trend toward dedicated teams for those who do. This year’s results show that 34 percent of executives indicate there is no one at their company who is responsible for sustainability or “going green” initiatives, up from 25 percent in 2011. More than one out of five (21 percent) corporate leaders report there is a team of individuals whose jobs are specifically and solely dedicated to sustainability, up from 17 percent in 2011 and 13 percent in 2010.
  • Most consumers and business executives also believe corporate sustainability activities are more likely to be covered by the media when the news is bad than good. The number is comparatively higher among consumers who are confident in corporate America’s commitment to “going green.” Three-quarters (75 percent) of U.S. adults and 69 percent of executives feel the media are more likely to report on “bad news” than “good news” when covering how companies are addressing efforts to “go green.” Specifically among the 21 percent of consumers who believe “most,” “almost all,” or “all” companies are committed to “going green,” 83 percent feel there is a bias for bad news in the media.

 Said Ron Loch, senior vice president and managing director, sustainability consulting, Gibbs & Soell. “The results reveal growing efforts by business communicators in relating their corporate responsibility stories, but also underscore a deficit in general understanding and trust.  It’s clear much more needs to be achieved in terms of relevant engagement with consumers and the media around corporate sustainability.”





Nielsen: The Global, Socially Conscious Consumer

28 03 2012

In a new global research report, Nielsen has identified a segment of the population they call the Global Socially Conscious Consumer.  

  • Two thirds (66%) of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. 
  • They prefer to work for these companies (62%), and invest in these companies (59%). 
  • Still nearly half (46%) say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies. 

In the study, respondents were asked if they prefer to buy products and services from companies that implement programs that give back to society. Anticipating a positive response bias, respondents were also asked whether they would be willing to pay extra for those services. For the purposes of this study, Nielsen defines the “socially conscious consumer” as those who say they would be willing to pay the extra.

According to Nielsen, “Cause marketing won’t work with all customer segments—some simply don’t care—but the research suggests that there is a segment of socially conscious consumers that cause marketers should pay attention to.”

New findings from a Nielsen survey of more than 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world provide fresh insights to help businesses better understand the right audience for cause marketers, which programs resonate most strongly with this audience, and what marketing methods may be most effective in reaching these consumers.

Thanks to a tweet from our friend John Gerzema for pointing us to this research which he believes is in line with the findings in his book Spend Shift.

 

 





Ogilvy Earth. Mainstream Green. Bridging the Green Gap.

27 03 2012

A major new research report was issued this week from marketing agency Ogilvy Earth studying the barriers to mainstream consumers acceptance of sustainability behaviors and enlightened brands.

The focus of the study was both in the United States and in China, two of the most populated and carbon intensive countries in the world.  In the chart below, the report shows that the majority of people surveyed recognize the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle, a gap exists between knowledge of its importance and actual behavior.  The gap is 14% in China, and more than double that – 30% – in the United States.

In analysis of the research, Ogilvy Earth observed what this blogger has believed for 3+ years:

“The marketing communications industry knows how to do this. We popularize things; that’s what we do best.  But we need to embrace the simple fact that if we want green behaviors to be widespread, then we need to treat them as mass ideas with mass communications, not elite ideas with niche communications.”

In their analysis, the researchers found that “82% of Americans have good green intentions, but of those 82%, only 16% are dedicated to fulfilling those intentions, putting 66% firmly in this middle ground.”  As indicated in the chart about.

In their conclusions, the report’s authors identify 12 key ways they believe the Green Gap can be bridged.  They conclude:

1. Make it normal.

2. Make it personal.

3. Create better defaults.

4. Eliminate the sustainability tax.

5. Bribe shamelessly.

6. Punish wisely.

7. Don’t stop innovating.  Make better stuff.

8. Lose the crunch.

9.  Turn eco-friendly into male ego-friendly.

10. Make it tangible.

11. Make it easy to navigate.

12. Tap into hedonism over altruism.

For more detail and explanation on these intriguing and provocative gap bridging strategies, read the entire research report here.

Mainstream Green Report from Ogilvy Earth





Conference Board: What Board Members Should Know About Communicating CSR.

23 03 2012

In a significant white paper directed to corporate board members, The Conference Board has challenged directors to be aware of the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies and the challenges of communicating those actions to key stakeholders in the enterprise.

While the business benefits of CSR activities are now well-documented, the report says, “…communicating these activities are far from simple. If stakeholders perceive a lack of clarity regarding the company’s commitment to CSR, doubt the effectiveness of its CSR initiative, or miss the connection of a certain sociality activity to the core business, a backlash can occur.  CSR communication must overcome stakeholder skepticism to generate favorable CSR attributions.”

The report identified 6 key recommendations for board members to provide guidance for communicating CSR strategies:

1.  Seek CSR activities that fit into the business strategy.

2.  Emphasize CSR commitment and impact to foster consumer advocacy.

3. Seek credibility through the support of independent, external communication sources.

4.  Encourage employee and consumer word-of-mouth.

5.  Select social initiatives with high issue support.

6. Be mindful of stakeholder perception of business industry.

Here is a chart demonstrating how companies are

currently communicating CSR activities.

We are still surprised how passive and latent the CSR communications activities are.  The Conference Board recommends in their research that more consumer engagement is a critical next step to elevate CSR attribution and success.

The report says “a company’s CSR positioning can significantly amplify the effectiveness of CSR communication.  Stakeholders are likely to pay more attention to a comprehensive and coherent CSR message and believe in the authenticity of the social commitment.”

In other words, CSR should become a cornerstone asset in the brand’s equity and marketing focus.

The Conference Board Report Is Here.





UC Davis Study: Carbon Disclosure Boosts Stock Price.

9 02 2012

Companies that disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions and carbon reduction strategies see their stock values rise.

“Companies should not be as reluctant as they have been to provide this information because we show that it can be shareholder-positive. Our message is that it pays to be green.” said Graduate School of Management Professor Paul Griffin.  Along with his co-author, Yuan Sun of UC Berkeley, Griffin tracked stock prices of firms around the time these companies voluntarily issued press releases disclosing carbon emission information. In the days after the press releases were issued, the companies saw their stock prices increase, Griffin and Sun found.

“When a company makes a voluntary disclosure of this kind, it signals to the investment community that this is a firm that is environmentally responsible,” Griffin said. “Investors are saying they would prefer to invest in an environmentally responsible firm.”

The study, “Going Green: Market Reaction to CSR Newswire Releases,” uses the archives of CSR Newswire to identify climate change related press releases issued by companies between 2000 and 2010. The researchers tracked the stock changes of the companies from two days before a press release was issued to two days after.

For the 172 companies identified as making voluntary disclosures, average stock prices increased just under a half percent in the five-day span around the disclosures, according to the study.

“This is evidence that managers’ voluntary climate change disclosures generate positive returns for shareholders,” Griffin said.

The study looked at voluntary disclosures only, so the authors could not definitively determine if required disclosures by all such companies would have yielded similarly favorable stock value increases.

However, to test their findings, the researchers compared stock movements of these companies to stock shifts of similar firms that did not disclose carbon emission information during the same time periods. The companies that did not disclose climate change information did not see a statistically significant increase in values, the study found.

“The matched sample companies do not behave the same way as the companies that disclose,” Griffin said. “If anything, in the matched sample, the price runs in the opposite direction.”

While much of the concern about greenhouse gas emissions has focused on energy and utility companies, the study by Griffin and Sun examined carbon emission strategies across a broad range of industries, including information technology, health care, telecommunications, and financial services, as well as energy and utilities.

The researchers analyzed separately the stock changes for smaller firms that disclosed carbon emission information. These firms saw an even greater effect on their stock values, with prices increasing 2.32 percent.

Compared with large firms, small firms are not followed as closely by analysts, and investors know less about them, so it makes sense that the release of climate change information would have a more pronounced effect, according to Griffin and Sun.

In recent years, companies have faced increased pressure from environmental activists and concerned shareholders to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and to develop strategies to reduce them. Many firms have taken up the challenge, examining the environmental impacts of all aspects of their businesses, from supply chains to manufacturing processes to heating and air conditioning in office buildings.

Original post at Sustainable Brands





50 Fastest Growing Brands Serve a ‘Higher Purpose’

8 02 2012

 

New research on the world’s 50 fastest growing brands found a cause-and-effect relationship between a brand’s ability to serve a higher purpose and its financial performance.

Brand consultants Millward Brown and former Proctor & Gamble marketing officer Jim Stengel developed the list of 50 brands, which they say built the deepest relationships with customers while achieving the greatest financial growth from 2001-2011. Furthermore, investment in these companies – the Stengel 50 – over the past decade would have been 400% more profitable than an investment in the S&P 500.

The list includes numerous brands with strong reputations for sustainability, such as Method, Seventh Generation, Stonyfield Farm and Chipotle.

The study forms the backbone of Stengel’s book GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies (Crown Business; December 27, 2011).

“We wanted to uncover which brands grew the most over the past decade, both in terms of customer bonding and shareholder value,” said Millward Brown Optimor VP Benoit Garbe, who led the study. “Once we identified these brands, our burning question was what, if any, were the common principles that sparked and sustained their growth.”

To arrive at the Stengel 50, Millward Brown Optimor valued thousands of brands across 30+ countries. The list included both B2B and B2C businesses in 28 categories ranging in size from $100 million in revenues to well over $100 billion:

Ideals – The Ultimate Growth Driver

A research team – comprising Millward Brown Optimor brand strategists, Jim Stengel, Professor Sanjay Sood and MBA students at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management – uncovered that the most successful brands were built on an ideal of improving lives in some way, irrespective of size and category.

“We define ideal as the higher-order benefit a brand or a business gives to the world,” said Stengel. “Some companies are very explicit about their ideals, like Zappos – their ideal of delivering happiness is on their boxes, all over their offices, even on t-shirts employees wear. Other brands, like Louis Vuitton, are more implicit about it. But all their actions – throughout their products, stores and communications – amplify their ideal to luxuriously accentuate the journey of life.”

Added Garbe, “We found that this ideal is both a source of inspiration externally among customers, as well as a compass for internal decision making. So whether it’s Red Bull which seeks to Uplift Mind and Body or Pampers which is all about Caring for Happy Healthy Development of Babies, an ideal influences all facets of the business from HR and Marketing to R&D and Finance.”

Through case studies, GROW demonstrates how brand ideals aren’t simply about altruism or corporate social responsibility but a fundamental human value that is authentic to the brand and ultimately a driver for extraordinary growth. In fact, Millward Brown Optimor’s analysis discovered that those who centered their businesses on ideals had a growth rate triple that of competitors in their categories.

How Ideals Impact the Consumer Mind

Millward Brown’s team also determined that the 50 brands touch on five fundamental human values:

  • Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility
  • Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability of people to connect with each other and the world in meaningful ways
  • Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
  • Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality
  • Impacting Society: Affecting society broadly, from challenging the status quo to redefining categories

The list of companies is as follows:

Accenture, management and enterprise consulting services

Airtel, mobile communications

Amazon.com, e-commerce

Apple, personal computing technology and mobile devices

Aquarel, bottled water

BlackBerry, mobile communications

Calvin Klein, luxury apparel and accessories

Chipotle, fast food

Coca-Cola, soft drinks

Diesel, youth- targeted fashion apparel and accessories

Discovery Communications, media

Dove, personal care

Emirates, air travel

FedEx, delivery services

Google, Internet information

Heineken, beer

Hennessy, spirits

Hermès, luxury apparel and leather goods

HP, information technology products and services

Hugo Boss, luxury apparel and accessories

IBM, information technology products and services

Innocent, food and beverages

Jack Daniel’s, spirits

Johnnie Walker, spirits

L’Occitane, personal care

Lindt, chocolate

Louis Vuitton, luxury apparel and leather goods

MasterCard, electronic payments

Mercedes-Benz, automobiles

Method, household cleaners and personal care

Moët & Chandon, champagne

Natura, personal care

Pampers, baby care

Petrobras, energy

Rakuten Ichiba, e-commerce

Red Bull, energy drinks

Royal Canin, pet food

Samsung, electronics

Sedmoy Kontinent (“Seventh Continent”), retail grocery

Sensodyne, oral care

Seventh Generation, household cleaners and personal care

Snow, beer

Starbucks, coffee and fast food retailer

Stonyfield Farm, organic dairy products

Tsingtao, beer

Vente-Privee.com, e-commerce

Visa, electronic payments

Wegmans, retail grocery

Zappos, e-commerce

Zara, affordable apparel

Original post at Sustainable Brands





PwC: 50% of CEOs prepared to change strategies based on customers’ environmental and corporate responsibility expectations.

27 01 2012

PwC released the results of its 14th annual Global CEO Survey focused on sustainable growth.  The research was conducted with 1,201 business leaders in 69 countries and also included further, in-depth interviews with 31 CEOs to gain a better understanding of those issues.

In this year’s survey, nearly half of CEOs said they would change their companies’ strategies within the next three years because they expect stakeholders to factor companies’ environmental and corporate responsibility practices into purchasing decisions (see figure). Companies are planning to adapt their offerings—or develop entirely new ones—to address society’s changing sentiments. They’re also planning to answer questions about their environmental and corporate responsibility practices—which includes the practices of their suppliers—to stay in their customers’ good graces.

“Most corporations want to do the right thing. They want to be responsive regarding energy use. The people we’re hiring expect us to be. They want to work for a company that has a value system built around sustainability. I don’t think you need government regulation to drive it.”

– Stephen A. Roell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Johnson Controls





24/7 Wall St.: The Ten Most Hated Companies In America.

18 01 2012

Are you surprised?

24/7 Wall Street’s analysis was based on a rigorous study of two dimensions.  One is public research about consumer satisfaction, customer care, pricing of products and services, and brand impressions. Wall St. research takes into account another set of factors, which include present earnings, profit forecasts, product development and quality, and brand valuations.

Here is how they did their research.

“We examined each company based on several criteria. We considered total return to shareholders in comparison to the broader market and other companies in the same sector during the last year. We reviewed financial analyst opinions on those companies that are public. We analyzed data from a broad array of sources, including Consumer Reports, JD Power, the MSN/Zogby Poll, ForeSee and the University of Michigan American Customer Satisfaction Index. We also considered negative press based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of media coverage and the Flame Index, which uses a proprietary algorithm to review more than 12,000 websites and ranks companies based on the frequency of negative words. Finally, we considered the views of taxpayers, Congress and the White House — where applicable.”

Read the article here.





BrandAsset® Valuator: Fewer trust brands but trust is key to building brand equity.

16 01 2012

Kudos once again to our friend John Gerzema and his team at BrandAsset® Valuator for another compelling report on the key trends related to trust, brands, and the rise of the what they deem “The Citizen Marketplace”.

The headlines from their analysis and research demonstrate two inter-related factors as it relates to trust and brands:

That trust is the true, new brand differentiator.

  • 25% of people surveyed trusted brands in 2009, down from 49% at the beginning of the decade.
  • 45% cite trust as key to future potential or brand strength, up from 29% in 2001.

Other key findings in the research is the rise in social media as social contract with trust of social media outlets outpacing that of traditional media (and Twitter leading the trust game among social media outlets).

John and his BAV team conclude the following branding imperatives in the era of the Citizen Marketplace.

  • Trust is the new differentiator
  • There are numerous pathways to trust for companies and brands to pursue based on category requirements and their purpose and values
  • As communications evolve into conversations, social media is moving past social currency to social contract
  • Companies must not think social media, but ‘social as business model’.

Download a BAV presentation on the research here.

Thanks again BAV team for sharing this insightful work.





Asda UK: The new weird is to do nothing.

14 12 2011

The retailer Asda has 500 stores across the United Kingdom, serves more than 18 million customers a week, and has a home shopping busienss that serves over 98% of UK homes.

Adsa just released the results of research it did with over 6,000 Asda customers – who they affectionately have labeled Everyday Experts.

Results from the research are encouraging and revealing.  One of the most compelling findings is that levels of caring about sustainability issues did not vary among high, middle or low income participants.

Other key findings in the report included:

  • 80% said they plan to continue or increase the number of green products they buy.
  • 80% said they buy green products because they think it’s just the right thing to do.
  • 70% said they care about being green—no matter what their gender, age, location or income level, with more than a quarter (28%) saying they care very much indeed.

You can access the Asda research here.





Consumer Environmental Behaviors Have Shifted For Good.

30 11 2011

In a recent survey revisiting consumer attitudes toward environmental issues vs. 20 years ago, GfK Roper and S.C. Johnson demonstrate how much progress has been made.

 

The research study reports that 73 percent say they know a lot or a fair amount about environmental issues and problems, up from 50 percent earlier. Compared to 20 years ago, twice as many Americans are taking proactive steps to help the environment. Today, 58 percent of Americans recycle, 29 percent buy green products regularly and 18 percent commute in an environmentally friendly manner.

And the impact can be dramatic.  According to Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson, “Simply recycling one aluminum soda can yields enough energy to power my laptop for five hours or light up my office for 20 hours using a 60-watt energy-saving light bulb. These individual steps are made possible because individuals have a desire to modify their behavior, but also because businesses and governments have taken a leadership role in facilitating these changes by providing the right tools, products and processes.”

 

Three-in-four respondents agree that “a manufacturer that reduces the environmental impact of its production process and products is making a smart business decision.” Those are much higher marks than Americans gave business in 1990. Individuals place themselves higher at 38 percent and rank businesses lower at 29 percent when asked who should take the lead in addressing environmental problems and issues.

Said Semrau, “We all have a role to play to protect our earth, and 75 percent of American consumers say they feel good when taking steps to help the environment. That’s huge. Through increased environmental knowledge and with the right products and tools, we can all appeal to that sentiment to make smarter choices for a greener lifestyle.”

Green shopping photo via Shutterstock.





Congrats Honest Tea. Will report sustainability progress on Tumblr.

10 11 2011

Honest Tea’s decision to expand to this new communication channel reflects a trend among sustainable brands to find the most effective way to leverage corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting to increase dialogue and engagement with consumers.

The organic bottled tea company released the second edition of its annual Mission Report in combination with a new Tumblr site that will update regularly with posts about the company’s progress on social and environmental initiatives.

Honest Tea released a digital version of the report, which is becoming standard practice, and some companies – led by outdoor companyPatagonia’s example – are building entire microsites dedicated to tracking the sustainability of products and services. Others are choosing to incorporate CSR reporting into the traditional annual report, as Clorox did this year, indicating that sustainability performance is reaching the same level of importance as other corporate disclosures.

Honest Tea’s report, called Keeping It Honest, details the company’s initiatives related to products, packaging, people and partners. It highlights achievements, such as the conversion of all teas to Fair Trade Certified, the company’s first annual service day, and the launch of a new product, Honest CocoaNova.

The report also addresses sustainability challenges, such as packaging, providing consumers with an introspective look at how the company strives to scale a mission-driven business.

Acquired by Coca-Cola earlier this year, Honest Tea also will utilize its Facebook page to host a Keeping It Honest tab, during Honest’s “Mission Month”, where Honest fans can choose a personal mission each week, creating their own agenda for change, the company says.

Go to the Keeping it HONEST site here.

Since Honest Tea was founded in Bethesda, Maryland in 1998, the company has sustained an impressive double-digit annual growth rate. The company was listed as one of PlanetGreen.com’s Top 7 Green Corporations of 2010. It also received Greenopia.com’s coveted 4-Leaf Rating as “the greenest beverage company” for the third year in a row and was recently ranked by The Huffington Post as one of the leading “8 Revolutionary Socially Responsible Companies.”



Original article published at Sustainable Brands Weekly





Havas Media: Only 20% of global brands contribute to a sense of wellbeing and quality of life.

8 11 2011

In releasing their latest results, Havas Media underscores how few brands are contributing meaningful experiences to people – with most people saying they would not care if 70% of brands ceased to exist.

In a press release, Sara de Dios, Global Head of Meaningful Brands at Havas Media said.  “We believe that it is likely that the next generation of brands will flourish in emerging economies – they can, from the onset, create the context that promotes the growth of meaningful brands. Companies and brands operating in emerging economies can become active in transforming their roles; they are creating new lifestyles for millions of people and their communities while contributing to the overall progress of their societies. This will continue in the future with a growing middle class emerging within these markets.”

This innovative global undertaking is able, for the first time, to connect brands with our quality of life and wellbeing. It does this by measuring the perceived impact of brands on our personal wellbeing – their influence on factors such as our health, fitness, happiness, values, social relationships, financial security, lifestyles and habits – and our collective wellbeing, that is, how brands help to improve communities, societies and the environment.

The analysis includes a measurement called The Meaningful Brand Index (MBi) that uses consumer perception to compare and track the impact brands have on our lives. Based on the views of 50,000 people in 14 countries, the results show a direct relationship between a brand’s MBi score and the level of consumer attachment. That is, the greater the contribution the brand has to our wellbeing – measured by the value it creates for individuals, communities and the environment – the larger role it will have in people’s lives and the more meaningful it becomes.

Meaningful Brand Index results:

Ikea, Google, Nestlé, Danone, Leroy Merlin, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Unilever and Bimbo are the top 10 global brands. These brands systematically improve our personal and collective wellbeing and are rewarded by stronger brand equity and attachment. Furthermore, the results show that we really care that these brands exist as we see that they are making a significant contribution to our lives and communities. Havas Media argues that many of the top 20 brands are helping us create a new lifestyle that’s more consistent with today’s challenges and consumer trends.

Top 20 global brands according to Havas Media’s Meaningful Brand Index:

  1. Ikea
  2. Google
  3. Nestlé
  4. Danone
  5. Leroy Merlin
  6. Samsung
  7. Microsoft
  8. Sony
  9. Unilever
  10. Bimbo
  11. LG
  12. Philips
  13. Apple
  14. P&G
  15. Mars
  16. Volkswagen
  17. L’Oreal
  18. Wal-Mart
  19. Carrefour
  20. Coca-Cola

Detailed analysis on what makes each brand meaningful

Meaningful Brands also explains what makes things meaningful to us as consumers when it comes to specific brands and sectors. For instance, 65% registered a very strong attachment to Coca-Cola worldwide. However, only 35% think the brand improves our quality of life. In fact, some consumers worldwide think it is contributing negatively to our lives, mostly due to health concerns. However, Coca-Cola has, as with many other brands in the beverage sector, been a pioneer in connecting its brand to other personal issues such as happiness and positivity which has enabled it to successfully build a positive link to our emotional wellbeing.

Sector trends

When looking into brands’ impact on our sense of collective wellbeing (communities/ societies/environment), there is a general improvement. This is the case with the automotive and public transport sectors, driven by greater environmental and product innovation (such as the hybrid and electric cars and energy efficiency). Compared to last year, brands such as Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota and Peugeot have, according to consumers, improved the most in this area.

Personal and individual wellbeing

When it comes to our expectations of improving our personal wellbeing and quality of life, the results are not so good. A staggering 80% of brands across 14 countries are underperforming. This reveals a huge opportunity for brands. To some extent this is being realised by brands in sectors such as FMCG, retail, IT and consumer electronics. According to consumers, most brands in the financial, utilities and telecommunications sectors, underperform in helping us improve our daily lives and individual wellbeing.

Despite these trends, the analysis shows that some brands have been able to break free from these industry limitations. There are brands with exceptionally high MBi scores in low scoring industries that are learning to reconnect with consumers. This is the case for Fidelity Investments in the USA, the energy brand Petrobras in Brazil, EDF in France and the telco brands 02 in the UK and Free in France. All of these register significantly higher than average MBi scores for both their sectors and countries.

Worldwide and regional comparisons:

The analysis suggests that the next generation of brands will come from emerging economies. People in fast growing economies, such as Asian and Latin American markets, record a stronger and healthier relationship with brands. The proportion of brands making a notable positive contribution to our lives increases to around 30% in Latin America, compared to 8% in European markets, where people tend to be more sceptical and less engaged with brands. In the US it’s 5%.

By contrast, the situation in developed economies is the opposite. Brands in these regions are no longer seen to improve people’s quality of life. There is an aging and increasingly poorer middle class who are demanding that brands help them to lead and create new lifestyles that fit in to their new expectations and values. In order to survive, these brands must re evaluate their definitions of success and take up the challenge to make meaningful contributions to these people’s lives.”

Hernan Sanchez Neira, CEO Havas Media Intelligence, adds:
“It’s clear from our analysis that we need to take a new look at the relationship between brands and consumers. Nowadays we want so much more from brands than just promises or stories. Brands that manage to create better relationships dominate the marketplace.”

Meaningful Brands helps us to develop this type of relationship by understanding exactly what people expect from brands. It also helps us track how successful companies are responding to these needs by understanding how these companies are contributing to our wellbeing, both as citizens and individuals, and how they communicate these values to us. It also shows us that there’s a big business opportunity for brands who are able to satisfy consumers by creating wellbeing in the context of their new values, expectations and local market realities.”

Consumer sentiment continues to shift:

  • For the 4th year running consumer expectations of companies’ responsible behaviour continues to rise
  • Nearly 85% of consumers worldwide expect companies to become actively involved in solving these issues (an increase of 15% from 2010)
  • Those prepared to reward responsible companies by choosing to buy their products is up 11% from last year to more than half of all consumers (51%)
  • Those who would pay a 10% premium for a product produced in a responsible way is up once again – from 44% last year to 53% in 2011
  • The percentage of us who would punish irresponsible companies has also increased to 44% (from 36% in 2010)
  • Only 28% of consumers worldwide think that companies today are working hard enough to solve our social and environmental challenges.
  • Only 20% trust companies when they communicate about their social/environmental commitments and initiatives

About the research:

The research was carried out from March to June 2011 across 14 markets – France, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, Japan and India. The research took into account the views of 50,000 consumers via online panels.

About Havas Media

Havas Media is the global media network of Havas.

Havas Media represents one of the world’s fastest growing media networks and its agencies have grown from 10 markets in 1999 to 119 markets in 2011.

Havas Media services its clients through a portfolio of specialist global networks and agencies. The group is organised to maximise local market dynamics whilst leveraging the extensive global insight and strategic support within Havas Media. The range of companies within Havas Media include: MPG (Havas Media’s global media network), Arena Media (Havas Media’s network for tailor-made communication services), Havas Digital (Havas Media’s global interactive network) and Havas Sports & Entertainment (Havas Media’s global sports and entertainment communication network).

Further information can be found at www.havasmedia.com or follow us on twitter @HavasMedia





Global Opportunity: Tell It How It Is – according to Cone Echo Research

18 10 2011

In its newly released global research report, Cone Echo Research highlight the opportunity for business to build a stronger relationship with consumers by meeting their expectations that business will address social and environmental issues through their operations, their products and services and their unique expertise.  

The trend is global as evidenced by the results in ten countries and the 10,000 people who were surveyed.  And not surprisingly, communication is critical in bridging the gap between perception and reality.

  • 93% of consumers say they want to know what companies are doing.
  • 91% of people say they want to be heard as well.

This means that reciprocal communication is more than an expectation, its essential in building a strong connection with consumers.  And critical to overcoming the confusion, skepticism and even cynicism among consumers.  

  • 89% of consumers globally believe companies share only the positive information about their efforts, while withholding the negative.
  • 71% are confused by the messages companies use to talk about their efforts and impacts.
  • 61% of consumers believe a company is telling the truth about its social and environmental efforts and impacts, but this varies widely by nationality.

Trust is more complex.

The more trusting a country’s consumers are in business, the more confused they are by a company’s messages. These consumers are putting great faith in the words of business, even though they don’t necessarily understand the messages themselves. In return, they don’t ask for perfection, simply the truth. Nearly nine-in-10 (88%) say it’s ok if a company is not perfect, as long as it is honest about its efforts. This permission presents an opportunity for companies to speak candidly about tough CR issues to build trust.

Follow this link to access the Global CR Study





ImagePower Survey: 60+% of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies.

10 06 2011

Monterey, CA – June 8, 2011– Consumer appetite for green products has increased significantly in the past year, according to findings from the annualImagePower® Global Green Brands Survey, one of the largest global consumer surveys of green brands and corporate environmental responsibility. This year’s survey, which polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries, reveals that consumers worldwide intend to purchase more environmental products in the auto, energy and technology sectors compared to last year. Now more savvy about how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect them and their families, global consumers are expanding their green purchase interest to higher-ticket items such as cars and technology.

Industries protecting the environment

Consumers are divided on which industry currently does the best job of protecting the environment. 18 percent of American and 20 percent of Australian consumers say the energy industry does the best job of protecting the environment. By comparison, most of respondents in Germany (19 percent), India (22 percent), China (33 percent) and Brazil (22 percent) cite the technology sector. In the UK, more than 21 percent of consumers say the grocery store industry is the top protector of the environment.

Where consumers are spending

While personal care, grocery and household products are the industries with the greatest representation among the top ten brands list, consumers in the US indicate that they intend to spend more money on green technology, energy and automotive products or services in the next year. When it comes to current usage of green products or services, the 2011 study reveals that the household products and grocery categories have the highest consumer adoption rates in all countries except China, where packaged goods/beverages and personal care are the most used categories, and in Brazil, where household products and personal care dominate. In all countries, consumers indicate that in the coming year they are less likely to buy green packaged goods and beverages, grocery and household products.

“We’re seeing a shift in the ‘In Me, On Me, Around Me’ mentality when it comes to purchasing green products,” said Russ Meyer, Chief Strategy Officer of Landor Associates. “Consumers have a good understanding of how green choices in personal care, food and household products directly affect their families, and they are now seeing benefits like costs savings that attract them to higher cost items like cars and technology.”

Greater perceived value in developing countries

Consistent with last year’s study, more than 60 percent of consumers globally want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. Respondents in all eight countries surveyed indicate that they are willing to spend more on green products. In developed countries such as the US and the UK, roughly 20 percent of those surveyed would spend more than 10 percent extra on a green product.

In developing countries, however, consumers say that green products have a higher inherent value. Ninety-five percent of Chinese consumers say they are willing to spend more on a product because it’s green—with 55 percent of them willing to spend between 11-30 percent more. Similarly 29 percent of Indian consumers and 48 percent of Brazilians say they are willing to spend between 11 – 30 percent more on green products.

“Consumers in developing countries express greater concern over the state of the environment in their countries, which may contribute to their greater willingness to pay more for green products,” said Paul Andrepont, Senior Vice President of Penn Schoen Berland. “Consumers in these markets also differ from their developed-nation counterparts in believing that selection, rather than cost, is the greatest barrier to buying green products. Brands that address these consumers’ very real concern – over air pollution in India or deforestation in Brazil – have the ability to position themselves as premium in the market, a possible competitive advantage.”

Packaging is critical

Packaging continues to be a matter of great concern for US consumers. Seventy-one percent believe companies use too much material in product packaging – though only 34 percent of US consumers say they consciously purchase products that use less packaging. Almost half of American consumers feel that packaging that can be recycled is more important than packaging made from recycled or biodegradable materials.

Packaging also plays a critical role in communicating product benefits to US consumers. More than 50 percent of American consumers say on-pack information helps them understand how green a product is. Additionally, 40 percent say that packaging is their primary source for information on environmental issues regarding products.

“Other than price, the two biggest influences on purchase decisions are on-package messaging and prior experience with the product, both of which satisfy the consumer need to understand a benefit beyond ‘saving the world,’” said Annie Longsworth, global sustainability practice leader for Cohn & Wolfe. “It’s critical for green brands to communicate the real and tangible benefits of their products in addition to being green, which still feels like luxury to many consumers.”

2011 US rankings
For the first time since the inception of the ImagePower® Green Brands Study in 2006, the four brands perceived to be the greenest are “born green” companies. The full list includes:

  1. Seventh Generation
  2. Whole Foods
  3. Tom’s of Maine
  4. Burt’s Bees
  5. Trader Joe’s
  6. The Walt Disney Company
  7. S.C. Johnson
  8. Dove
  9. Apple
  10. Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)

“When we analyzed the approach of the top ten brands companies, using our Esty Environmental Scorecard™, it was clear that the winners achieve a product-value-information trifecta,” said Amy Longsworth, partner at Esty Environmental Partners. “The top brands offer clear price value through co-benefits: a great innovative product that meets my functional needs plus green attributes that meet my values needs. These companies also tend to have robust life-cycle insight and complete sustainability strategies across their value chains, which enable them to draw from rich experience and data for their consumer communications.”

Methodology

The seventh annual Green Brands study polled more than 9,000 people in eight countries —including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Brazil, India, Germany, France and Australia—and was conducted by WPP agencies (NASDAQ: WPPGY) Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland Associates (PSB), as well as independent sustainability strategy consulting firm Esty Environmental Partners. The Green Brands Study identifies emerging trends related to consumer perception and purchasing behavior of “green” products. The study was conducted online among the general adult population between April 2, 2011 and May 3, 2011. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.0%. In China, India, and Brazil, respondents were from tier-one cities.

To view 2011 global findings, click here. For US findings, click here.





Peter Clarke: 5 Branding Commandments for the Post-Crash Economy

29 08 2010

A very inspiring article by Peter Clark on 5 compelling branding commandents for marketers and agencies moving forward.  His straightforward summary of branding principals for a post-recession era reminds us that consumer’s expectations for brand behavior are forever changed.

Peter’s commandants are:

1.  Simplicity

2. Transparency

3. Responsibility

4.  Sustainability

5.  Affordability

Read the 5 Commandments Article Here.

Grass Image:  Dennis Wong





From Buyer Beware To Seller Beware: IBM’s Study On Corporate Social Responsibility.

12 08 2009

“Three quarters of businesses admit they don’t understand their customer’s corporate social responsibility expectations well.”

 – “Attaining sustainable growth through CSR”,

IBM Institute For Business Value

 

An interesting study of 250 global business leaders has revealed both the business upside to corporate social responsibility and one of the vulnerabilities – companies who embark on CSR initiatives without a true understanding of the expectations of their customers of those efforts.  The report reveals:

  • 68% of companies are now utilizing CSR as a opportunity and platform for growth.
  • 75% acknowledge the number of advocacy groups collecting and reporting information on their company has increased in the last three years.
  • But only 17% of companies say they really engage and collaborate with their customers regarding CSR activities.

Companies that truly understand the corporate social responsbility expectations of their customers report increased revenues and reduced costs and better differentiated products and services.  They believe they are more effective at improving labor practices, driving sustainability initiatives and aligning philanthropy with business priorities.  They also report having more engaged employees in CSR activities.

Ironically, many companies invest millions of dollars in gaining an understanding customers reactions’ to products and services, but the majority are operating a CSR strategy without insight and collaboration with customers.  The truth is your customer feels entitled to know everything “their brand” is doing.  So we echo IBM’s point of view, today the traditional adage “buyer aware” is now reversed to be “seller beware” — especially if you are unaware of your customers’ expectations regarding your social responsibility practices.

Watch an interview with George Pohle of IBM on the CSR Study