“As we enter a new year and look around the corner, we believe the most successful brands will meet the needs, hopes and aspirations of New Consumers; build more respectful, collaborative and enduring relationships with all stakeholders; and unleash our collective co-creativity to bring better, smarter and more impactful ideas to life in ways that create shared value for all.”
Raphael Bemporad, Principal and CSO of brand innovation studio BBMG, outlines five trends shaping sustainable brands in 2012 that are vitally relevant for this blog’s audience. (You can read his full post on the Sustainable Brands blog here – it’s chalk full of great brand examples.)
As you refine your employee engagement, cause marketing and sustainability strategies for 2012, these trends can help your company focus on the ideas and initiatives that will drive tangible impact and set you apart from the herd. Brands of all shapes, sizes and sectors are jumping on the corporate responsibility bandwagon, but not all of them are achieving authentic, relevant and meaningful programs that reinforce core business goals and values. Now is the time to make sure your company is taking the smart approach. As Cone, Edelman and others continue to reinforce through their research, consumers and employees want to see more corporate responsibility, but they are quick to vilify a brand that doesn’t do it right.
Here's a roadmap of trends for smart CSR in 2012.
1. Ubiquity of C2C (and C2B): consumers have more power than ever and smart brands are using that paradigm to their advantage through collaboration, co-creativity and personalization. It’s no longer just about listening to the customer, but inviting the customer to the process.
2. Rise of Generation ‘Why’: a growing group of consumers – the young educated wired New Consumers – is looking for more from the products and brands they purchase. They want design, function, value and social impact all in one place and if they can’t find it through your products, they will likely create it themselves and become your competition. Per trend #1, it’s best to delight these folks and co0pt them for your creative process.
3. Race to Relationship: it’s time to stop thinking about winning on price and start winning through value “by empowering consumers with better products and experiences and championing their success.”
4. Imperative of Sustainable Brand Innovation: there’s a huge opportunity to embed sustainability throughout the value chain – from how materials are sourced all the way to how products are made, packaged and sold. In the race to win consumers, it’s important to demonstrate how the embedded social good is embodied in the product they are holding in their hands.
5. Evolution from Occupy to Engage: with a focus on the trends above your company would be hard pressed to NOT delight and engage your consumers. No brand seeks to be vilified and ‘occupied’ in the media (or literally by the 99% in tents outside your lobby) and the way to avoid a hit to your reputation and performance is to use these emerging trends to your advantage. That’s just good business sense by any definition of ‘good’ you use.