Global agency Euro RSCG Worldwide has been publishing research and thought leadership content for years. It is expanding into a new series area, the Consumer Conscience Study. The study's raison d'être is that growing numbers of consumers are "activist consumers," thinking about where products come from and how they themselves can influence policy and corporate behavior with their purchases.
Kate Robertson, Euro RSCG UK group chairman talked about the findings from the first in the series “Blueprint for a Sustainable Brand.” It was released at the 4A’s Transformation Conference in Los Angeles.
She warned that brands can no longer assume -- and social media obviously is the elephant in the room -- that they aren't the subject of close scrutiny. "The tidal wave of the social media revolution is inexorably rolling over us and exposing all -- everything will come out, if not today, then for sure tomorrow,” she said at a panel.
Nearly half of Americans believe the greatest change agent in the future will be “the people, empowered by social media” -- more than twice the number of respondents who chose politics or corporations as the greatest agent of change. The study, which surveyed 4,000 adults in Brazil, China, France, India, the UK, and the U.S. in 2007 and again in the winter of 2011, found that people are more focused than ever on corporate values and reputation.
Sixty-nine percent said they are “paying more attention than in the past to the environmental and/or social impact of the products [they] buy,” and 71% said they believe “the most successful and profitable businesses in the future will be those that practice sustainability.” Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they prefer to buy from companies that share their values. Nearly three-quarters said businesses that are most likely to succeed now and henceforth are those that are open and collaborative.
But beyond that, they expect companies they deal with to be drivers of social change. Nearly three-quarters said business has as much to do with positive change as governments. And when businesses fail to meet those expectations, people are punishing them: 70% of consumers worldwide said they have a responsibility to “censure unethical companies by avoiding their products.” China (91%) and India (89%) were the markets most likely to believe that consumers have a duty to censure unethical companies by avoiding their products.