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Havas Media study reveals only 20% of brands have positive impact

Majority of consumers in India and China would pay 10% more for socially and environmentally responsible goods

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | February 8, 2012

Havas Media has launched ‘Meaningful Brands’, a global framework that offers a new index, analysis and proprietary tools to measure and build brand value in the context of today’s demanding environment.

For the second year running, Havas Media found that most people would not care if 70 per cent of brands ceased to exist. This is further evidence, it argues, that the existing approaches to building and measuring brand value are out of date. The study is a direct response to this finding. This innovative global undertaking that covers India and China in Asia Pacific enables for the first time to connect brands with our quality of life and wellbeing. It does this by measuring the perceived impact of brands on our personal wellbeing -- their influence on factors such as health, fitness, happiness, values, social relationships, financial security, lifestyles and habits -- and our collective wellbeing. That is how brands help to improve communities, societies and the environment.

The research was carried out from March to June 2011 across 14 markets: France, Spain, the UK, Germany, Italy, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, Japan and India. The research took into account the views of 50,000 consumers via online panels.

The key consumer trends in China and India include:

  • 74 per cent and 62 per cent say they would pay 10 per cent more for socially and environmentally responsible goods in China and India (highest globally aside from Chile).

  • Information and expense are the main barriers to socially responsible consumption, with credibility being another key issue in both markets.

  • 84 per cent in China feel it’s the responsibility of companies rather than the government to solve social and environmental issues (compared with 64 per cent in 2009) and 76 per cent in India with a similar increase since 2009.

  • 95 per cent and 85 per cent say they trust companies with a responsible or social profile more than those without in China and India, respectively.

  • Empowerment is down in China: 64 per cent feel that they can make a difference to how companies behave and this is static in India at 71 per cent.

But so is cynicism: 71 per cent feel that most companies are only trying to be responsible to improve their image and only 12 per cent trust what companies say in this area.

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 57 per cent in China, 30 per cent in Latin America, compared to 8 per cent in European markets, where people tend to be more sceptical and less engaged with brands. In the US it’s 5 per cent. Vishnu Mohan, CEO of Havas Media Asia Pacific, said, “The findings of Meaningful Brands are especially relevant for marketers in Asia. It clearly shows the seriousness with which consumers in Asia look at the social, ethical and environmental aspects of a brand. As a region, which is growing at a rapid pace, the findings provide us a huge opportunity to create the context that promotes the growth of meaningful brands. Companies and brands operating in our region can play a big role in transforming the lives of millions of people and contribute to the progress of their societies.”

Mohan added, “By contrast, the situation in developed economies is the opposite. Brands in these regions are no longer seen to improve people’s quality of life. There is an aging and increasingly poorer middle class who are demanding that brands help them to lead and create new lifestyles that fit in to their new expectations and values. In order to survive, these brands must re-evaluate their definitions of success and take up the challenge to make meaningful contributions to these people’s lives.”

Meaningful Brands shows that there's a big business opportunity for brands which are able to satisfy consumers by creating wellbeing in the context of their new values, expectations and local market realities.

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