Havas Media and MPG’s Brand Sustainable Futures (BSF) report has revealed that Indian consumers are more likely to consider environmental and social aspects when making purchase decisions than any among the nine nations surveyed. The analysis also shows that while Indian consumers are one of the most receptive consumers globally, Indian companies remain ambivalent over the relevance of sustainability on their brands.
Brand Sustainable Futures is the group’s first to market framework to help companies build strong and meaningful brands using sustainability as a key platform. The model evaluates, tracks, and compares how a firm’s sustainable endeavours resonate with consumers and the consequent impact they make on its brand equity.
The research, the largest of its kind, covered over 30,000 consumers in nine countries – Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US. It explored 150 brands across 10 different industries.
The key consumer trends in India include:
• Environmental pollution is the major issue of concern for Indian consumers.
• The proportion of those ‘very concerned’ about it is well over half (57 per cent), compared to just over a third (35 per cent) of global respondents.
• The main barrier to buying responsible products in India is availability and lack of information.
• At 25 per cent, India also contains the largest proportion of consumers who feel highly concerned about sustainability issues and who feel powerless in their ability to do anything about them. Brand Sustainable Futures defines this group as ‘Hostages’.
• Indian consumers appear to have higher than average expectations of companies in terms of sustainable endeavour and there is a stronger feeling of empowerment. 70 per cent feel that their actions can make a company more responsible, compared to 57 per cent on average.
• Indian consumers are also more active in recommending products/brands (97 per cent compared to 90 per cent globally), rewarding responsible companies (88 per cent compared to 80 per cent globally) and in particular when it comes to seeking out information about corporate behaviour (84 per cent compared to 63 per cent globally).
• Appreciation for companies that partner with a charity or NGO has increased since 2009, with 83 per cent agreeing this year compared to 73 per cent in 2009.
Globally, it was found that the vast majority of mainstream consumers would not care if two-third of today’s global brands disappeared in the future. MPG’s 2010 global analysis also demonstrates the more sustainable the brand is perceived, the more meaningful it becomes to consumers. MPG concludes that the 33 per cent of brands that are considered meaningful are redefining and rebuilding their relationships with consumers through sustainability.
To help companies take a corporate temperature check, the project’s proprietary metric – the Brand Sustainable Futures Quotient (BSF Quotient), allows a company to assess, track and compare its brand’s sustainable health over time. The higher the BSF Quotient the more sustainable the brand’s health is perceived to be.
India BSF Quotient results summary:
• Tata, Reliance, ITC and Nokia are perceived to be the top socially and environmentally responsible companies.
• Despite environment being a primary concern for Indian consumers the biggest driver of BSF Quotient ranking for top brands is Marketplace Responsibility.
• TV advertising is considered the top media channel for communicating CSR initiatives, as are newspapers and magazines in India.
• Digital media and indirect communication channels (comments from employees, friends and family, key opinion leaders, experts, NGOs, certification labels etc) are becoming pivotal platforms for brands when it comes to sustainability.
However, unlike global findings, results in India show that company communications and corporate events would be sufficient to make consumers believe in a company’s commitment to the environment and society. Across most other countries, independent certification marks, word of mouth and comments from experts would be required.
Vishnu Mohan, CEO, Havas Media and MPG Asia Pacific, said, “As a strongly committed group, we believe we have the responsibility to use our expertise in communications to explore new ways of addressing some of today’s key challenges faced by CEOs, CMOs and brand managers. The most important challenge today is how to build a meaningful brand in this era of transparency, sustainability and mistrust. Today, it’s important for brands to make a difference rather than just be different. This approach will contribute to building consumer trust and sustained results for brands.”
Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media and MPG India, added, “Successful companies in India understand that sustainability in a key concern for Indian consumers and have made an effort to engage them through their sustainability profile. Our research clearly shows that brands can redefine their relationships with consumers and other key opinion formers through sustainability.”