Transparency, sustainability, and a purpose beyond profit are more than popular catchphrases. They’re now bottom-line expectations for how larger businesses and brands are expected to operate.
In this report, we seek to understand how the movement toward corporate social responsibility has evolved since 2007, when we launched our Future of the Corporate Brand study. We explore the new roles companies are being asked to play beyond their pure corporate function and the widening recognition that by “doing good” businesses can “do well.”
Highlights from the report include: Transparency is NOT optional: There was a time when people bought products without really giving thought to who or what was behind the brand. This era is long gone. Today, 70 percent of Prosumers are actively seeking out information on the companies that provide the products and services they buy.
Your company IS your brand: Consumers have continuously higher expectations of companies and brands. And since it’s easier than ever today to determine who has been acting “good” or “bad,” companies that fail to meet consumers’ expectations will pay the price. Two-thirds of Prosumers globally avoid buying from companies deemed to have a negative social or environmental impact.
A clear set of values is good for business: It’s more imperative than ever for a company to uphold strong values to which consumers can relate – consumers are actually making purchase decisions based on those values. Eighty percent of Prosumers agree that a clear set of values can help a company be more profitable.
Project Superbrand: 10 Truths Reshaping the Corporate World
Why is Havas Worldwide studying this topic?
Havas Worldwide has been monitoring the movement toward corporate social responsibility since 2007, when we conducted our study on the Future of the Corporate Brand. In the years since, we’ve seen terms such as transparency, sustainability, and purpose beyond profit enter the common parlance and become a focus of business leaders across the globe, as more companies have come to recognize the link between “doing good” and “doing well.”
With our latest Prosumer study, we are seeking to understand how this movement has evolved over the past eight years. How are companies responding to intensified pressures to work toward the common good? What do consumers now expect of their brand partners, and how critical are these expectations to their purchase decisions? What are the primary issues people would like businesses to address?
What topics are covered in the white paper?
• The new imperative for corporate transparency
• The link between corporate behaviors and brand reputation
• The import of clearly articulated—and adhered to—corporate values
• The move toward mindful consumption
• The push for corporations to help solve society’s most pressing problems
• The benefits of community-based action
• The increased focus on employee welfare
• The issues people in different parts of the world most want companies to address
• The expanded role of the CEO
Who are Prosumers?
In all of our global surveys, Havas Worldwide uses a proprietary algorithm to break the sample into two groups: mainstream consumers (which, in the case of this study, made up 80 percent of the sample) and Prosumers (20 percent). These breakouts are included in the report and presentation.
Why do Prosumers matter?
These proactive and informed men and women are today’s leading influencers and market drivers. They have always been important, but they have grown even more powerful thanks to their skillful embrace of emerging technologies and, especially, social media.
Havas Worldwide has been tracking Prosumers for more than a decade and in that time has interviewed thousands of them. They are important to us because, beyond their own economic impact, they influence the brand choices and behaviors of others. Simply put, what Prosumers are doing today, mainstream consumers are likely to be doing six to 18 months from now. Learn more about Prosumers and our Prosumer studies at http://mag.havasww.com/prosumer-report/ and by following us on Twitter (@prosumer_report).
Who created the study?
Prosumer Reports is a series of thought leadership publications by Havas Worldwide—part of a global initiative to share information and insights, including our own proprietary research, across the Havas Worldwide network of agencies and client companies.
Havas Worldwide is a leading integrated marketing communications agency and was the first to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year. The Havas Worldwide network is made up of 11,000 employees in 316 offices in 120 cities and 75 countries, and provides advertising, marketing, corporate communications, and digital and social media solutions to some of the largest global brands. Headquartered in New York, Havas Worldwide is the largest unit of the Havas group, a world leader in communications (Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).
For more information, please visit www.havasworldwide.com
How was the study fielded?
In March 2015, Havas Worldwide partnered with Market Probe International to survey 10,131 men and women aged 18+ in 28 markets: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Where can I get additional findings?
Complete findings of this report—including data for each market surveyed—are available to employees and clients of Havas Worldwide by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Key findings from this and earlier studies, along with select data, are available to the public at http://mag.havasww.com/prosumer-report/
I want to learn more about how Havas Worldwide can help my brand.
For new-business inquiries, please contact:
Global Chief Marketing Officer
T +1 212.886.2043
I am a member of the media. How can I get more information?
For inquiries regarding Havas Worldwide’s The Modern Nomad or earlier studies, please contact:
Global Head of Communications & Network Initiatives
M +1 646 643 8824
Project Superbrand: 10 Truths Reshaping the Corporate World
With our latest Prosumer study, Havas Worldwide seeks to understand how the movement toward corporate social responsibility has evolved over the past decade. How are companies responding to intensified pressures to work toward the common good? What do consumers now expect of their brand partners, and how critical are these expectations to their purchase decisions? The study draws on the experiences and points of view of more than 10,000 men and women in 28 markets around the globe.
The 10 truths we uncovered:
1. Your Oompa Loompas are going viral: In the Roald Dahl classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, no one outside the forbidding gates of the world-famous Willy Wonka Candy Company had any idea that the factory was run by a previously unknown race of short-statured men with orange skin and green hair. In the real world of today, such a lack of scrutiny would be unimaginable. Whether a company is public or privately held, people expect broad access and accountability. A majority of our survey respondents—including 7 in 10 leading-edge Prosumers—said they make it a point to find out about the companies that provide the products and services they buy. For the modern corporation, transparency is not optional.
2. Your company is your brand: There was a time when a company could act as if its individual brands were somehow separate from its corporate organization. People would happily eat a bowl of Cheerios or cleanse their faces with Noxzema without giving a thought to who produced them. Now, more people are actively seeking out information on the “who” behind the things they buy. And companies that fall short of consumers’ expectations pay the price. Half of mainstream consumers and two-thirds of Prosumers avoid buying from businesses deemed to have a negative social or environmental impact.
3. Your values are invaluable: In addition to operating transparently and according to the letter of the law, big businesses are expected to espouse a clearly communicated set of values. And consumers are making purchase decisions based on those values. A majority of mainstream consumers and more than three-quarters of Prosumers say they prefer to buy from companies that share their personal values. And around the same percentages say they’re more likely to buy from a company that is doing good things for the world.
4. Mindless consumption is so last century: Changes in business are taking place in tandem with shifts in how we consume. In developed markets especially, people are deriving less pleasure from the mindless consumption that started filling up our pantries, closets, and garages in the postwar boom of the 1950s. People still want bargains, of course, but it’s even more essential that products and services offer some sort of enduring value.
5. Heroes wanted: People around the globe are hungry for sociopolitical change and are convinced it will require the active cooperation of big business. Two-thirds of our global sample agreed that businesses actually bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change, and 62 percent said they’d like their favorite brands to play a bigger role in solving social problems.
6. Acting “local” pays big dividends: Solving global problems is important, but meaningful connections also must take place at the local level. A majority of our global respondents—including nearly three-quarters of Prosumers—are looking for their favorite brands to play a bigger role in their local communities. Nearly 9 in 10 Prosumers believe it’s important for companies to improve the communities in which they operate.
7. Together is better: People aren’t looking for businesses to act as quasi-governments. On the contrary, around two-thirds of our global sample actually fear the power big corporations already wield. What they want to see are all the world’s players—governments, corporations, NGOs, citizens—working together to tackle problems that no single entity can solve alone. Prosumers and baby boomers especially are keen on such collaborations, with at least 8 in 10 in each group wanting to see corporations working with governments, governments working with NGOs and nonprofits, and businesses working with consumers to make the world a better place.
8. The “greater good” starts within company walls: People aren’t just looking to see what corporate brands are doing in the “outside” world. They also want to know how companies are treating their own people, including employees and suppliers. When we asked respondents how important it is for a company’s CEO to do certain things, paying workers a fair wage and providing a pleasant work environment received higher scores than earning profits or even being environmentally conscious.
9. You’ve got to know your audience: We asked our global sample which of four areas they most want to see companies support: sustainability/the environment, poverty/income inequality, education, or culture/the arts. Overall, environmental sustainability was the cause deemed most pressing; however, there were important distinctions among the 28 countries surveyed, with India being most focused on education, for instance, and Ireland most concerned about income inequality. Businesses stand to gain the most when they are seen as working hard to address the public’s most pressing concerns in whatever part of the world they’re operating.
10. A strong leader is a strong asset: It’s no longer enough for corporate chieftains simply to deliver profits and drive growth. Eighty-four percent of our global sample deem it important that a CEO serve as a role model within the company, and more than three-quarters think he or she must also serve as a role model outside the company. In other words, some of the new responsibilities being placed on companies are also being put onto their chief executives.
To learn more about the study and to download the full report, please visit mag.havasww.com/prosumer-reports/.
And follow us on Twitter @prosumer_report.
About the Study
In March 2015, Havas Worldwide partnered with Market Probe International to survey 10,131 men and women aged 18+ in 28 markets: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The survey sample was made up of 20 percent leading-edge Prosumers and 80 percent mainstream consumers. For the purposes of this report, we have characterized respondents aged 18‒34 as millennials, those aged 35‒54 as Gen Xers, and those aged 55+ as baby boomers.