Welcome to a deep, lasting consumer trend that will probably outlast your lifetime

Water ProjectSociety is heading towards a more sustainable, tolerant, progressive future. There are sweeping social and environmental changes that have been taking place this last decade that is being forced upon us by governments and consumers alike. And now it is taking shape as a business led movement driven by socially and globally aware employees; savvy investors for the future and inspired leaders of today. Just recently it was officially described as one of those deep-seated societal trends that we only see come our way every fifty or so years by the global trend tracking organisation Trendwatching in their September article “Demanding Brands.” So what is a demanding brand?

According to Trendwatching ‘Demanding Brands’ are ‘switched-on brands that are embarking on a journey towards a more sustainable and socially-responsible future that will demand that consumers also contribute.’ Even though that may cause some pain or inconvenience in the short term for the consumers when they are asked to respond to a meaningful demand on their time, energy or wallet, ultimately they will come to have a deep respect for those brands that push them towards taking action that they know to be right, as a condition of doing business with those brands.

Here are the four major demands that Trendwatching feels are beginning to have traction more and more in the hearts and minds of socially responsible businesses and consumers alike:-

The Planet: Demand action that is good for the environment, now or in the long term. (Think ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ as an initiative of most local and national governments being promoted widely, taught in our schools today, and now promoted by more and more environmentally-conscious companies.)

Society: Demand action that is good for other people, whether that be close friends and family, local communities, or the larger sphere of society inhabiting our whole world. (For example, ThankYou Water and Zambrero here in Australia)

Lifestyles: Create products or services that demand consumers live healthy or behave well. (For example WholeFoods Markets in North America)

Nonprofits: Make demands on behalf of an established nonprofit, and insist that customers do something to support them. (For instance, our own Australian major charitable organisations of many years standing like World Vision Australia, Red Cross and their ilk are now increasingly looking at ways to partner with large corporations in a joint approach to the hearts and minds of consumers.)

Of course, consumers will not take action of this kind unless the brands that ask it of them are totally sincere, fully committed and completely transparent in their own efforts to make the world a better place. Meaningful action means just that, and those brands which don’t follow that golden rule of social consciousness will be caught out and discarded by the tidal wave of new consumers coming on to the scene in very quick time. So media stunts, one-off programs of the month, and consumer response promotions linked to customer loyalty programs fall into the ‘you’re not really serious’ consumer basket, and will be vilified and ostracised accordingly.

Authentic and concerted action by socially conscious brands in partnership with their equally concerned consumers is a trend that is growing bigger and bigger every day.

Demanding Brands - Fair Trade CertificateThis demand on the consumer is a two-way street, because consumers everywhere are increasingly demanding it of their favourite brands. If you have any doubt about that, just consider how the ‘fair trade’ movement is rapidly gaining influence in the world today and the impact it is having on the coffee and chocolate industries of the developed nations as well as the current media and consumer focus on the Bangladeshi fashion clothing sweatshops and the impact that news is having on the ethical sourcing of products by fashion brands here in Australia.

Here are a couple of comments that describe the effect of this trend quite succinctly from the consumer-driven perspective… “91% of global consumers believe that companies must go beyond the minimum standards required by law to operate responsibly,”   (Cone Communications/ Echo, May 2013)….

and…..  “87% of global consumers believe business should place at least equal emphasis on social interests as business interests, and ‘purpose’ has increased as a purchase trigger by 26% since 2008.”  (Global Consulting firm, Edelman, 2012).

Demanding Brands - Vitoria Soccer ClubThere are some excellent examples of brands that are making demands of their consumers as partners in this push to make a difference to our planet and all the people that inhabit it, in the feature article from Trendwatching titled ‘Demanding Brands.’ I think you’ll enjoy the examples they share with their global readership. I particularly like the one about the Brazilian soccer club, Vitoria, that promoted its charitable blood donation campaign through the progressive changing of the colour of the hoops on its players’ uniform strips each game from white to red to match the amount of blood being donated by their huge fan base each week.

From 17th-21st February next year, we will be leading interested executives from socially aware companies on a journey of discovery through the corridors of some of Australia’s most forward thinking organisations working in this sphere of social responsibility in harmony with commercial success. I would love you to join us on this study tour with a difference.

For more information contact me at brian@precisionprofiling.com.au and I will rush the details to you.

Until then… Let’s seek to understand more and judge less. Have a great week – Brian

Precision ProfilingWhat Makes You Tick? Through ‘Motivational Fingerprinting’ we uncover what you do, how you do it and why you do it, and most importantly, the hidden patterns that lead to your success, and that of your team.

About Brian Clark

Brian Clark is the principal director of Precision Profiling®.

He is a renowned practitioner, writer and speaker on building total customer cultures; values driven leadership and world best practice strategy and implementation.

He has been a guest lecturer on world best practice for the executive management programme at Monash University’s business college (Mt Eliza campus); an adviser to and key note speaker for the Singapore Productivity Association and a consultant to many major Australian and overseas corporations and government departments.

Read more about Brian Clark Here

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