Stakeholder Trends and Insights
Researchers Share Latest Consumer Insights, Strategies for Converting Intention to Action

“Are you a part of the problem, or are you a part of the solution?” Simon Mainwaring asked attendees of the opening morning workshop at SB ’15 San Diego on Monday, before introducing the seven panelists who shared complementary global market observations and interpretations.

Hailing from Australia, England, and the United States, the latest insights into customer reactions to brands’ sustainability promises were shared here by top global market research agencies. Each expert presented their latest and most relevant data, which was followed by mini Q&A sessions with the audience. The workshop focused on dissecting methodologies, gleaning insights, and identifying knowledge gaps — and shared a wealth of valuable intelligence. Here are each researcher’s highlights:

  • Simon Mainwaring — Founder & Author, We First

    • The lives we live are so relentless. We have big data and audiences that are always on, which puts a greater onus on us as marketers. We literally have millions of relationships to manage. Ultimately, the opportunity for brands is to inspire the customer base — to co-author, to co-create, to co-own your brand by storytelling; it’s a dialogue!
  • Rosie Warin — CEO, Global Tolerance

    • We are moving toward a society that’s increasingly driven by social and environmental values, and these values must be reflected in the workplace. This can only mean good things for society. 44 percent of Millennials choose meaningful work over salary, and 62 percent only want to work for a company delivering benefits to society!
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  • Andy Last — Co-Founder & CEO, Salt

    • Over the past decade, while working with brands such as Unilever and Kimberly-Clark, Last has looked at how Generation Z feels about sustainability at work. There are opportunities for brands to engage with 15- to 20-year-olds getting involved in social causes and driving sales. Insights show that main issues resonating with GenZ are access to water and sanitation, education, and poverty. Celebrate your brand with celebrities: Look at Matt Damon’s work with Stella Artois around water. This is also the gender-equality “Malala Generation.” It’s through people and social issues that ads work best.
  • Raphael Bemporad — Founding Partner & Chief Strategy Officer, BBMG

    • Bemporad’s brand innovation consultancy helps brands to design for the coming generations while holding on to the enduring values of human behavior. The “Aspirationals,” the generation shaped by 9/11, are the bridge to advocacy that unite the right thing with the cool thing. The five steps to “disrupt and delight” are — to give Aspirationals something to believe in, give them a community to belong to, amplify their voice, give them social status and something to share, and give them a platform for participation and impact.
  • Nick Liddell — Director of Strategy, Dragon Rouge

    • Dragon Rouge partners with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to research consumer engagement and the circular economy in Europe. Liddell shared an upcoming Hub plan from Marks & Spencer that will completely shake up the traditional way in which goods and services are purchased — while building a zero-waste society. The circular economy will truly change the way businesses interact with their audiences. It’s still about desire and brand loyalty, but now businesses must have two-way conversations with their consumers. “We’re better off trying to inspire people than trying to educate them,” he said.
  • Whitney Dailey — Supervisor: CSR Insights & Intel, Cone Communications

    • There’s a gap between intent and action, and the opportunities are where consumers will participate. The main barrier to purchasing sustainable products is the lack of availability. But global consumers recently surveyed by Cone expressed a willingness to consume less, buy from unknown brand, pay more, take a pay cut, and share rather than buy, and eschew quality to support more sustainable products and services. The work of brands now is to change consumer perception: Half of consumers assume that unless the brands specifically state their sustainable qualities, that they are essentially not sustainable. Communication is the key.
  • Maria Reddin — Strategy Lead, GOODcorps

    • As a branch of GOOD, GOODcorp works with brands such as GAP and Starbucks to build large social impact programs to align business profits with “good.” Research has shown disconnect between what even conscious consumers say and the purchase decisions they actually make, due in part to the confusion in brand language such as CSR and Social Impact — terms which don’t mean anything to consumers. People are drawn to companies such as REI because of its intrinsically social co-operative business model. She asked, “What if the future of business culture is to just be more human?”
  • Mark Rossolo — Global Director of Public Affairs, UL Environment

    • What he said: Developed as a fire testing and certification company in the 1890’s UL has certainly shifted focus over the years, but its primary goal is still consumer safety. ULE aims to improve quality of life in a sustainable way. Millennials and GenZ are the future, and they’re “greenwashing” savvy! ULE and Shelton Group research showed that seven out of ten will consciously search for more sustainable products. Claiming to be “natural” is not enough; certification logos that provide quantitative assurances are most well-perceived. Most importantly, make sure your labels are relevant to the right consumer.

    The overarching takeaway: Whether we characterize it as purpose, goodness, or sustainability — we must leverage every touch point of our brands. Only then will we convert intention into action and will our consumer base become partners for creating the change we want to see in the world.

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