Conscious Commerce & Brand Choice: preference will be for the future rather than a habit of the past.

Conscious Commerce & Brand Choice: preference will be for the future rather than a habit of the past.

A very good debate run by Unilever and Guardian Sustainable Business today asking a panel of experts  how to close the gap between concern and action – the panel was made up of Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman, the CEO of Havas, David Jones, Tensie Whelan the President of the Rainforest Alliance and Malini Mehra CEO of the Centre for Social Markets.

Unilever is taking a bold leadership role with their Sustainable Living programme – in which they are changing their business model towards conscious commerce. The debate was inspiring and a the tone positive and optimistic.

The debate looked at the cooperation needed between business, individuals and government in order to grasp the nettle to change the way the world behaves to match the growing attitude of concern for the planet and our future. Interestingly, the positive tone was in the absence of government in the debate.

Some nuggets stuck in my mind after watching

  • David Jones calling Unilever’s Paul Polman, a pioneer of green blooded capitalism
  • The different attitude of growing up in the West top “have more” vs in emerging markets “to be more”
  • For companies to offer consumers choice based on their values rather than simply shareholder value
  • Politicians could (but won’t) legislate for the future as their electoral terms are short term – much like companies who only focus on their shareholders are focussed on quarterly performance not future effect
  • Brands remain important tools for future consumption, but the offers they make and provide (or those that their holding company do) must give back to the wider community
  • That the younger generation – because of digital connections of social media, are the most knowledgeable, most powerful and most responsible of all time
  • But the future will be changed via inter-generational cooperation as well as the axis of conscious commerce being the preferred choice
  • Small actions, long term outcomes – Don’t stay in the sidelines, it comes down to people making small actions to make a difference

Really worth catching up on the discussion on the Guardian sustainability site or follow #sustliving on twitter

21st Century Brands need a purpose to stay relevant

21st Century Brands need a purpose to stay relevant

Umair Haque of Havas Media neatly sums up what 21st Century Brands have to have in order to succeed

Where 20th Century branding was fixated on differentiation in a competitive positioning based battlefield. But in the hyper-connected 21st Century world the focus is on customer involvement.

The shift equates, says Haque, involves moving from differentiating to actually making a real difference to the customer – in human terms. Positive, optimistic, real differences will count.

Having a purpose.

Earning a role.

Living up to that role.

Recent research undertaken by Havas Media into Meaningful Brands shows that gobal customers are happy enough to dump 80% of the brands they use without much of a second thought.

That’s 80% of the brands they actually use not the hundreds of similar ones clamouring to be used.

It also shows that those brands that have a purpose – one that improves the lives of the customer or their communities or their/the world resonate strongly. This is more apparent in the emerging markets – which is where the future growth for all brands is coming from…

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%.”

21st Century Branding is moving on. Is your brand ready, willing & able?