sábado, 13 de junio de 2009

In today's new homes consumers want...

To cocoon
Less money, more fear, more stress? The home today is as much a place to hide and recuperate as ever. With increased access to new information within the home there is less and less need to leave it and less desire to do so.

Reaching out to global contacts and still having a developed identity is highly achievable and consumers are building a 'safe space' to retreat to.

Straitened budgets due to higher prices for basic commodities are driving people back into their homes: 72% believe "my home is my castle" and are spending more time at home; 43% are spending to feather their nests, with home entertainment atop the list. (The Culture of Recession, 2008, Faith Popcorn's Brain Reserve)
HR professionals will hear more employees talking about personal theft and crime, identity theft, workplace theft and violence. (A Bartender's Predictions for 2009, Fast Company, 30 December 2008)

Among those whose identity was always built around their home, the difference today is that their doors are often shut apart from to close friends and family, and character comes not so much from how you decorate each room but how each room supports and rejuvenates you.

In most countries, a majority say they enjoy entertaining at home, including around three-quarters of people in France, Argentina and Brazil (although only 40% of people in Singapore).
The British and Polish are similarly home-oriented, with two-thirds of them liking to spend much of their time there. Likewise, almost 70% of Americans consider their homes "an important part of who they are". (Homes and property: the global picture, WARC, September 2007)
Consumers want…

Relaxation, protection and often ultra-privacy.

Future urban oases will include both a need for belonging and interaction concurrent with a need for privacy. (Future Hotel Trends, WGSN report, December 2007)
From food and beauty to household cleaners, the market will see a widening range of products that soothe, energize or simply lift the spirits. (Mintel, Top trends for 2009, 12 November 2008)

Example solutions

With the new door lock system from Schlage, you get a door lock, a lamp, and a bridge unit which connects both of those things to the internet.
You can then not only lock and unlock your doors from your BlackBerry, you can see who's come and gone and when, by giving various members of your family their own passcodes on the lock's numberpad.
The BlackBerry service for Schlage's door locks (and remote-controlled house lamps and closed-circuit cameras) costs $12.99 a month. (pcmag.com, 10 January 2009)

To be easily entertained
What constitutes entertainment is personal and varied but what unites consumers is the ease with which to find it.

Taking television as a topical example, what is more instantly gratifying than thinking of what you want to watch, downloading it and watching it all - the while sat in front of a quality screen in a relaxing seat?
Those that offer real entertainment will have a significant competitive advantage. (Mintel, Top trends for 2009, 12 November 2008)

Consumers want...
Brands and retailers that up the stakes in entertainment by keeping up with technology and making delivery instant.
They're willing to pay for impeccable and easy service. Look at the example of iTunes - the majority of consumers who buy from iTunes do so because it's easier than searching for free downloads.
Netflix [the DVD-by-mail subscription service] posted fourth-quarter financial results which proved there is at least one entertainment company that is thriving in the midst of a recession.
Netflix reported earnings and revenue that bested analyst predictions and the company's own guidance - and future guidance was for growth, whether the economy recovers or not. (hollywoodreporter.com, Jan 26, 2009)

Example solutions
More US TV watchers are asking the same question as cable and satellite TV bills creep higher: why can't they just pay for the channels they want? Many technology and media companies are dreaming up new alternatives for delivering only the TV programmes viewers want.

The latest push into the living room aims to solve what has stymied earlier products, including the complexity of hooking up these devices, lack of content and relatively high prices. (Reuters, July 2008)
LG's wireless LCD TV, coming out in the second half of the year, has a box that all the components plug into which then streams the uncompressed 1080p data to the TV, while Toshiba's Cell TV, launching in Japan in 2009, can wirelessly stream separate 1080p signals to up to eight different screens around the home.

Cameras and camcorders are also connecting to the web through Wi-Fi to enable easy uploading of images and video, with Sony's CyberShot G3 being the world's first Wi-Fi-enabled digital camera that can upload photos and videos through any public hotspot due to its in-built web browser. (International Consumer Electronics Show, WGSN report, January 19 2009)

Logical environments
Consumers have shifted their priorities in many fields. In the home, practicality as well as good design is key, ease of living is more significant than status symbols and logic rather than tradition is paving the way for innovative new use of space and concepts of what constitutes a room.

The 21st century townhouse is an ever-evolving hybrid response to urban infill, a new form of living space that demands ingenuity and persistence. (Hauswork talks, London Festival of Architecture 2008)
Perched between art and architecture, form and function, the Rucksack House is a walk-in sculpture with its own spatial quality. A hovering illuminated space that looks like a cross between temporary scaffolding and minimal sculpture.

As mobile as a rucksack, this mini-house is intended to be an additional room that can be suspended from the facade of any residential building.
The Rucksack house offers a way of improving housing quality on an individual basis. New space gets slung onto an existing space by a simple, clear and understandable method. (Modern Architecture and Design News, convertiblecity.de, March 2008)

Consumers want...
Products that can help them to adapt their homes, alter existing buildings, add-on, rethink use and space by upcycling rooms and traditional use of space as much as furniture or soft furnishings.

WGSN loved the many micro-sized architectural projects that we've come across, often with small environmental footprints to match, such as the Micro-Compact Home and the contemporary prefabricated houses shown in the Some Assembly Required exhibition at LA's MOCA in 2007.
We also love Apartmenttherapy.com's annual 'Smallest Coolest Apartment Contest'. (Future Architecture, WGSN report, 31 May 2007)

Example solutions
Toshiba's Regza Design Concept is a slim LCD TV that can lean against a wall, eliminating the need for mounting and also allowing it to be used in a wider range of locations.
It also features mirrored glass to create a sense of depth and a built-in Solid State Drive for HD recording. (International Consumer Electronics Show, WGSN report, 19 January 2009)

Things to think about

Products that can be added to existing homes and buildings
Designs that rethink/recycle space as much as furniture
Products that can be altered for individual feelings, size, environment
Products that treat, energise or simply lift the spirits, however small
Designs that break the rules for individuals' whims

jueves, 11 de junio de 2009

Time Management

Time is a finite resource.
Growing your small business depends on understanding where to allocate time
Time is currency - it has value and needs to be managed
Tangible time is spent creating revenue i.e. billable hours, time spent creating something that will be sold, retail store hours, etc.
Intangible time is spent investing in future growth i.e. strategic planning, research, listening/learning about clients and their needs, networking, etc.
How are you spending/investing your time?
( Blanca Vela )

Word of Mouth Marketing

Word of Mouth (WOM) is enigmatic - fairly straightforward and simple to understand yet elusive and difficult to engage, spread and sustain.

Here is are a few ideas/elements that make up word of mouth marketing (I’m sure I’m just scratching the surface with this post so please feel free to add thoughts and ideas to the list by posting a comment):

Viral Capacity
WOM + Social Media + Global Connectivity + Inexpensive Publishing Tools =Viral Capacity
Consumer Empowerment

Technology has enabled today’s consumers to voice their opinions and experiences about issues, products/services or brands.

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the power of WOM
Embracing an empathetic approach during individual interactions and across all marketing touchpoints can ignite WOM

Think about your brand experiences as a consumer - who would you talk to about your product/service and what would you say?

Positive Interactions
WOM is fueled by positive interactions across all your touchpoints (the places where stakeholders come in contact with your brand i.e. website, tradeshow, retail store, customer service desk, etc.)

Macro: Experiences that stem from organizational elements i.e. company policies, quality standards, etc.

Micro: Experiences that are impacted by individual interactions i.e. the accommodating customer service rep, the friendly deliver driver.

The type of macro/micro interactions stakeholders have with your product, service or company will have a big impact on whether WOM occurs…and whether it will be positive or negative.
Lead Generation
Delivering on your brand promises builds loyalty and trust
Loyalty and trust leads to WOM

WOM translates into referrals and sales leads
Referrals from WOM are cool because they include some inherent trust in your brand passed on from influencers

(Blanca Vela)

miércoles, 10 de junio de 2009

Disney en Europa

“Disney”, trata de un producto nuevo para la sociedad europea. En su momento de lanzamiento, la sociedad a la que va dirigido carece del concepto de categoría de producto.
Se trata de un problema extenso cuya resolución determina el éxito o el fracaso de la empresa.
Disney representa el mundo de las fantasías, de los sueños y de la diversión. Es un reino mágico con el cual la mayoria de nosotros hemos disfrutado. En los países desarrollados los personajes de Disney son conocidos como el pan y la mantequilla. Todos nosotros conocemos lo que el Reino Mágico de Disney representa en nuestra fantasía.
Disney vende ilusiones, fantasías, sueños y deseos de un mundo perfecto e imaginario y esta acostumbrada a ser un éxito, aunque su parque temático europeo ha sido en los últimos años un motivo para tomarse una aspirina. Con la construcción y apertura de EuroDisney escasos 32 kilómetros de París se pretendía introducirse en Europa abarcando así un gran mercado de clientes potenciales debido a la cercanía de Bélgica, Alemania, etc.

EuroDisney pensó que tenía una mina de oro desarrollando su 4º parque en las afueras de Paris, con el tiempo se darían cuenta que la realidad era muy diferente.
Los 11 millones de visitantes en el primer año no eran los que estaban planeados. EuroDisney obtuvo unas pérdidas de 905 millones de dólares en el año fiscal del 1993 cual terminaba el 30 de Septiembre del 93. El presidente ejecutivo del parque, Robert Fitzpatrick, que obtuvo fama situando el parque, empezó a tropezar con operaciones del día a día. Fitzpatick habla francés , conoce Europa muy bien y su mujer es francesa, pero se vio incapaz de actuar con rapidez y eficacia en los asuntos del parque. Numerosas veces intentó dar a entender a los altos ejecutivos de la empresa que Francia no era lo mismo que Florida, pero sus intentos de advertencia fueron fallidos. Fue reemplazado en 1993 por el francés Phillippe Bourguignon. La siempre americana empresa ordenó a Bourguignon que diese al parque una imagen nativa sin perder la identidad americana.
Con esto se dio un cambio en la cúpula de EuroDisney, pero había problemas que con el cambio seguían existiendo. Estos problemas incluían: errores operacionales, diferencias culturales, los tipos de interés, el marketing, la comunicación,...etc.

Errores operacionales
Desde la experiencia americana se pensó que el Lunes seria el dia con menos visiantes y el viernes el más numeroso, ocurrio todo lo contrario. La compañía tuvo realmente problemas para planificar el numero de trabajadores para esos dias. Otro problema fue la aceptación de los diferentes empleados de las condiciones laborales. En Orlando los empleados estaban acostumbrados no ser necesitadosen todo momento. A los empleados franceses les irritaba este inflexible planteamiento laboral.
Otro ejemplo incluyó a los conductores de los Autocares. EuroDisney hizo construir los aparcamientos para los Autocares tan estrechos que esto provoco que los conductores no estuviesen demasiado contentos y tuviesen que pasar malos momentos para aparcar sus autobuses en los aparcamientos assignados. Aparte de solo asignar un lugar de descanso para los conductores con una capacidad de 50 personas. Habia dias en que se encontraban hasta 2000 conductores.
Otro de los errores operacionales fue el de los ordenadores de los hoteles. EuroDisney se basaba en que los clientes pasaban varios días en el parque. La realidad fue muy diferente, los clientes llegaban muy pronto por la mañana, para pasar el día en el parque y llegar a las habitaciones por la noche para marcharse el día siguiente. Las colas de espera para pagar se hicieron interminables a causa de que sólo existía un ordenador. Se tuvieron que instalar varios ordenadores adicionales para disminuir las colas.

Diferencias culturales
La aceptación en sí por parte de los europeos del parque temático no fue su problema, sino el enfrentamiento cultural producido entre la cultura norteamericano y las diferentes culturas europeas, en especial la cultura francesa.
La mayoría de los franceses pensaba que había una actitud imperialista por parte de EuroDisney.
Se interrogó en los medios de comunicación si la ubicación de un parque recreativo de este tipo a pocos kilómetros de uno de los sitios con más riqueza cultural, como son el Museo Louvre, el palacio de Versalles, la Torre Eiffel y los Campos Elíseos no seria un “Chernobyl cultural” para Francia. Comparando esta tragedia con la apertura de EuroDisney y recordando la devastadora tragedia atómica, que acabo con todo tipo de vida alrededor de la central nuclear.
Los europeos no soportaban el descarado y algunas veces sobrecargado estilo de imagen corporativa de EuroDisney. Los altos ejecutivos de EuroDisney provocarón con sus actitudes inumerables conflictos con personas que para ellos tenian actitudes desconociadas, pero que necesitaban trabajar con ellos. Su respuesta a las dudas o sugerencias era siempre la misma: "Hacerlo como nosotros lo decimos, ya que lo sabemos hacer mejor".
Errores culturales
Hay diferentes errores en las operaciones de EuroDisney que han afectado en especial a la cultura francesa. Un ejemplo es , una de las políticas seguidas por Disney de no servir ningún tipo de alcohol en sus parques. Esta política se extendió a Francia y causó una gran rebelión , ya que es típico comer con un vaso de vino. Tras muchas consideraciones en 1993 EuroDisney cambio su política y permitió servir vino y cerveza en el parque.
Otro ejemplo fue que que EuroDisney no entendió las costumbres de desayuno en Europa, ya que se les habia informado que los Europeos no se sientan para desayunar. La consecuencia fue que los restaurantes fueron diseñados demasiado pequeños.
Los directivos de Disney cometieron un gran error al creer que podían cambiar ciertos hábitos europeos, imponiendo sus costumbres, actitudes, hábitos de consumo, etc, en definitiva americanizar a los europeos. Esta actitud por parte de EuroDisney se enfrentó a un rechazo masivo por parte de la sociedad europea.
Por otra parte, los medios de comunicación criticaron como contraofensiva el puritanismo anglosajón al utilizar a Mickey,personaje identificativo de Disney, como alguien que no bebe, no fuma, trabaja duramente para triunfar en la vida y corta el césped en sus ratos libres. Tan solo se le conoce una novia, Mimmie con su traje de volantes y su pajarita en el pelo. Esta imagen dada por Disney que intentaba reflejar así la ideología de la sociedad norteamericana, se opone a la liberal y abierta sociedad europea.
Un ultimo ejemplo de errores culturales es el relacionado con las vacaciones. Los europeos son reacios a sacar a sus hijos del colegio, para tomarse unas vacaciones, durante el año laboral. Mientras que en américa esto es típico. Los europeos prefieren unas largas vacaciones antes que varias cortas.
EuroDisney fue introducido en el mercado como un lugar en el que pasar unas vacaciones en familia durante una semana. Esta estrategia de marketing fue totalmente errónea que no se contó con aspectos emocionales.
Los visitantes permanecían en el parque 1 o 2 noches como máximo, y no como se había estipulado, una semana. Si en vez de enfocar el marketing del parque al estilo americano de "grandeza y extravagancia" lo hubieran enfocado hacia una un nivel emocional de los visitantes, como es, el que nunca se olvidara esta experiencia en familia.
El Marketing utilizado tomando como énfasis el brillo y la grandeza de las atracciones fue percibido por los europeos como un Imperialismo de plastico americano, que era fatal para ellos y que aparte demostraba la gran arrogancia de EuroDisney.
La relación con los medios de comunicación fue muy pobre por parte de EuroDisney. Los ejecutivos no devolvían llamadas, no contestaban a preguntas, esto llevo a minar la relación con los medios de comunicación, a parte de darles una mala reputación.
Los medios de comunicación lanzaron una gran cantidad de ofensivas contra EuroDisney, a través del uso de metáforas (vistas anteriormente). Estas llegaron a ser tan crueles que resultaron hirientes para la empresa, provocando un rechazo en las sociedades europeas y dañando seriamente la imagen de EuroDisney.
Para la resolución de un problema extenso son utilizadas estrategias las cuales son importantes ya que contribuyen al exito o fracaso de una empresa.
En la estrategia de categoría de productos los consumidores deben jerarquizar los productos para así reconocer y comprender una nueva marca al categorizarla mentalmente en su categoria correspondiente. En esta estrategia el consumidor aprende lo que el producto va a hacer por ellos. En nuestro caso es llevar al consumidor a un mundo fantástico consiguiendo que este le de la categoría de producto para la diversión y el ocio.
Cuando el consumidor situa una nueva marca en una nueva categoria, le pone mentalmente una etiqueta, que lleva asociados un conjunto de objetivos mediante los que reconoce la marca y otro conjunto de objetivos por los que evalua la marca. En nuestro caso dándole la marca de “EuroDisney”

Cuáles son los grupos de consumidores según su reacción ante la crisis

martes, 21 de abril de 2009
En medio de la recesión económica mundial, un estudio de Nielsen revela los ocho grupos de consumo que surgieron en Estados Unidos como respuesta y forma de adaptación a este escenario. Los segmentos van desde aquellos que son indiferentes hasta quienes muestran pánico.

El cambio de hábitos en las sociedades de consumo de todo el mundo es un hecho. Nadie escapa a la crisis y la gente aplica sus propias recetas para enfrentar este momento.El índice de confianza del consumidor alcanzó los niveles más bajos de los últimos tiempos, afectando también el nivel de gasto.

A partir de estos cambios, la consultora Nielsen realizó una investigación en Estados Unidos que se denominó “Análisis de Recesión”. La compañía de investigación de mercado detectó que hay ocho grupos de consumidores que se diferencian por la forma de adaptación al nuevo contexto.
Los rangos van desde los más indiferentes al contexto hasta los más extremos, que han cambiado todos sus hábitos. Un dato interesante, es que los ingresos por sí solos no tienen una correlación directa con el impacto económico de segmentación, sino que las decisiones van más allá del bolsillo.

Ocho estándares de vidaDe acuerdo a los resultados que arrojó el documento, los grupos están formados por:

Indiferentes a la recesión: son aquellos que no alteraron su comportamiento de gasto.

Insensible a la recesión: solo se ven afectados ligeramente por la recesión y recortan los gastos de lujo como salir a cenar, o el entretenimiento fuera del hogar.
Cambia a marcas propias: tienden a ser más jóvenes, son aquellos hogares que compran marcas genéricas o marcas propias del canal que frecuentan.
Pro-descuento: son los típicos hogares que toman partido del uso de cupones de descuento y liquidaciones.
Stock y Ahorro: son consumidores leales a algunas marcas, pero aún así, también aprovechan los cupones de descuentos y liquidaciones para poder stockear todo lo que sea posible.
Buscado de oferta por canal: son los grupos de consumidores que van switcheando de tienda en tienda en busca de mejorar ofertas.
Desleal a la marca/sensible a la promo: estos consumidores son capaces de cambiar una marca líder por una marca genérica o una de descuento en busca de una mejor oferta.
Alcanzado por el pánico: son aquellos que tomaron medidas drásticas para reducir los gastos de vida y costos en todas las áreas posibles para ahorrar dinero.A
lgunas tendencias cruzadasLos “Consumidores Indiferentes a la Recesión” son principalmente hogares con mayores ingresos (54%). Éstos representan también una fracción importante de los “Consumidores orientados al stock y Ahorro” y son menos propensos a “Cambiar a Marcas Propias” o ser “Deslealtades a las marcas”, sin embargo, son concientes de la crisis y ocupan un alto porcentaje del segmento “Alcanzados por el pánico”.Mientras tanto, los hogares de menores ingresos son más propensos a “Cambiar a marcas propias” o ser “Menos leales a las marcas y más sensibles a las promociones”.
Fuente: Infobaeprofesional.com

martes, 9 de junio de 2009

Cuáles son los cinco consumidores que definen la compra durante una recesión

jueves, 28 de mayo de 2009
La mayoría de los hogares modificaron los hábitos de compra y ahora las familias van al supermercado con otras pretensiones. Se cuida más el dinero y se privilegia el ahorro.

Un informe de Nielsen revela con qué perfiles de clientes se podrán encontrar las marcas frente a las góndolas.Los fabricantes de productos de consumo masivo se encuentran frente a un nuevo desafío. El agitado clima que vive la economía y la actitud de prudencia que adoptan los consumidores al momento de hacer la compra, los obliga a comprender la mente del cliente con más precisión.

Entender cuál es la razón por la cual eligen algunos productos y desisten de otros requiere de un largo tiempo de observación, ya que el fin del boom del consumo trajo aparejado cambios a la hora de tomar decisiones, y el cliente es cada vez más racional.

De acuerdo a un estudio sobre hábitos y comportamiento de los compradores realizado por el área de Consumer Research de la consultora The Nielsen Company, los consumidores adoptan una de entre cinco actitudes específicas al momento de efectuar la compra de una categoría de consumo masivo.

“Conocer la mecánica de cambio de estas mentalidades puede ayudar a los fabricantes a conservar su participación de mercado en el punto de venta”, comentan en la consultora.

De este modo, en algunas categorías los compradores no utilizan demasiada energía en la decisión de compra, mientras que en otras los compradores buscan información sobre los productos de manera activa.

Los cinco protagonistasDe acuerdo a la investigación, cinco tipo de consumidores definen la compra frente a la góndola. Estos son:

* Piloto automático indiferente: son consumidores que realizan la compra en piloto automático, pero muestran bajo apego a las marcas en relación con estos productos. No dudan en cambiar de marca si sus productos preferidos no están disponibles.

* Piloto automático intermitente: son consumidores que realmente se interesan por estas categorías y no quieren correr riesgos. Encontraron su área de confort y no son propensos al cambio de marca.

* Browser: Compradores que buscan variedad y son permeables a los estímulos propios del local de venta. Les gusta estudiar productos y se toman el tiempo necesario para sopesar las ofertas de la góndola.

* Impulsado por Buzz: Compradores con alto grado de compromiso con la categoría, receptivos a la información, incluso la buscan activamente. Novedades, publicidad, innovación y estímulos del local tienen gran impacto sobre ellos.

* Motivado por ofertas especiales: la comparación de precios y las promociones dominan la elección de este tipo de consumidor.

Ante la ausencia de nuevas propuestas innovadoras.Más ahorro y menos lujosPor otro lado, Nielsen investigó que ante la situación actual de los mercados alrededor del mundo el cambio de hábito también se manifiesta en la administración del dinero. De esta forma, y según una encuesta a más de 25.000 consumidores en más de 50 países alrededor del mundo, el ahorro toma un protagonismo fundamental en los hogares.

Reacción de las marcasEn este escenario, las marcas de consumo masivo deben tomar algunas precauciones y estar atentas a los clientes.En todos los escenarios, seguir ofreciendo ofertas y descuentos, adaptarse a las necesidades de manera rápida y eficaz, son condiciones básicas para sobrevivir a la crisis.Fuente: Infobaeprofesional.com

lunes, 8 de junio de 2009

Consumers and sustainability: business practices

Consumers are retaining their strong views on sustainability despite the global economic downturn. Strategic advisor Melissa Davis examines changing consumer attitudes and offers tips on how responsible business practices can create a competitive edge.
Understanding consumers in uncertain times is complex. A global recession has a direct impact on people's pockets and makes their behaviour unpredictable.

As the economic downturn continues to deepen, consumer attitudes to spending and brands are changing, particularly in Europe. The pattern of consumption has shifted from a free-market mindset to cautious consumption and smart spending - spurred on by the failure of the financial markets and uncertainty of the future.

This is particularly endemic to the UK, which has been hit hard by the financial crisis, but reverberations are starting to be felt across Europe and in Asia Pacific.

Consumers expectations of business
A common response for many businesses - especially retailers - is to cut costs and ride out the difficult times until business returns to "normal", when consumers spend as they did before

However, the sudden and seismic shift in consumer behaviour indicates a transformation in people's lifestyles and the emergence of new patterns that will out-run any recession. This economic downturn has coincided with greater consumer awareness of critical issues such as climate change, as well as more awareness about the business behind a brand.

Crucially, consumers blame business for the downturn and the current uncertainty. As a result, their expectations from business to act on issues, such as the environment, have grown.

"Our research shows that as of September [2008], three-quarters of the British public say it is more important for a company to be responsible in tough economic times," says Jenny Dawkins, head of corporate responsibility research at Ipsos MORI Reputation Centre. "Also, the level of ethical purchasing has continued to rise year-on-year," she adds. "So there is now an onus on companies to continue to behave responsibly in line with consumer expectations, while also delivering at affordable prices."

For many businesses and their brands this means they must now focus on rebuilding trust among consumers as well as working towards making sustainability (ide. social and environmental responsibility) - or corporate responsibility (CR) - central to a company's business agenda, brand and products.

At the same time, companies need to adjust to a new playing field where the "brand" itself has less pulling power as consumers seek out lower-cost options from alternative brands.

Brands need to find new ways of keeping customers loyal and engaged. Rather than driving CR away, the recession is bringing social and environmental responsibility closer to day-to-day business running. And when CR sits at the core of the business, it can be used to gain brand leadership.

Understanding the new consumer
The latest statistics show that "sustainability" - particularly regarding the environment - will play a significant role in the lives of this new emerging consumer, even when belts are tightened.

Research from the Carbon Trust Standard in March 2009 states that 62% of consumers (from a sample of 2,000 UK consumers) are influenced by environmental considerations in their purchasing decisions and this has increased from a year ago. The Co-operative Bank's Ethical Consumerism Report of November 2008 also stated that the growth in ethical consumerism would not slow with the downturn.

Companies are responding to this new consumer vocabulary in different ways. Some brands - among them Philips and Unilever - have started to integrate sustainability criteria throughout their product lines, introducing both "green" products as well as improving standards on product lines, in order to be more environmentally efficient. These improvements are communicated to the customer only when relevant.

Philips is keen to be a frontrunner in the area of sustainability, which it views as inherently linked to its brand positioning as a global health and well-being company. "We are increasingly producing 'green' products that are better than the predecessor products or our competitor products, but we do not necessarily explicitly communicate these as green, only when our market research shows that it is relevant for the consumer. Sometimes it will be normal green product improvement," says Theo Schoenmakers, senior director for consumer lifestyle products at Philips.

"External research shows that people are looking for green benefits and making purchasing decisions based on this," he adds. "At the moment, it is a select group of consumers - around 20-30% - and they expect payback on the product within two years."

"Green" brand claims
Many other brands have introduced green or social credentials in an effort to respond to growing customer awareness and also to attract the eco or ethical consumer.

Yet complaints are rising among advertising standards bodies about over-exaggerated green claims and few consumers trust green advertising. There have also been high-profile campaigns to expose "green-washing" among brands - for example, when a company promotes a line of green products without attempting to improve other product lines or overall company behaviour.
"There is a shift from the fluff to the fundamentals where people are questioning existing brand behaviour. People are asking whether they believe in this company overall - whether they believe in its practices," says Andrew Wanliss-Orlebar, an innovation consultant at ?What If!
"It is now less about products and more about the brand," he adds. "There is also a phenomenon where sustainability is shifting to the core of the business - like Starbucks moving wholeheartedly to fairtrade (in the UK). This means that the era of the green range on the side has gone."

The challenge for companies today is to find a balance between informing consumers of responsible business practices, while innovating for a new low-carbon economy by offering choice for consumers. They also have to create new business models that inspire loyalty along with less consumption (like renting and refilling products), and make a long-term investment in sustainability - when there is economic pressure to cut costs.

At the same time, the sustainability agenda opens up new opportunities for businesses if it is viewed as part of a longer-term lifestyle shift and, accordingly, built into the business.

Integrating sustainability

A company that wants to embed sustainability and take this through to customers will need to reframe the CR approach in the following way:

Think broadly about the audience: Avoid the tendency to categorise and limit the sustainability audience as a niche eco or concerned consumer. Many consumers do not label themselves as green or eco even though they may be concerned about similar issues. Also, some audiences (especially younger consumers) simply expect that green credentials will be embedded within the brands they like.

Innovate: Sustainability is no longer limited to the corporate function of the business. It can be visible across individual brands and in product innovation (suh as the Toyota Prius). It can offer retailers a way for their brand or product to stand out. Think of ways to engage customers at the product level to solve sustainability issues and also consider innovative partnerships. Retailer M&S, for example, teamed up with Oxfam to encourage customers to return clothes and reduce waste.

Integrate: Sustainability can only be integrated into the brand when it is at the core of the business, and this takes long-term planning. Any integration needs to apply both environmental and social factors to business operations that can then be translated through customer "touchpoints". For example, Nike has openly committed to reach an environmental standard across 100% of its footwear range by 2011.

Communicate: Any customer communication must be relevant and appropriate to the audience, rather than gratuitous PR. At the moment, there is pressure on brands to talk about their sustainability credentials, and this communication can be delivered in various ways - online, through partnerships or on packaging, for example. There is plenty of scope for innovation around communication and marketing but this must be supported by real action. Be aware that big green corporate announcements - such as carbon neutrality - now make little impact.

Price it right: It is still unclear as to whether people will pay more for sustainable products, and it may be sector dependent. However, consumers are thinking in terms of "smart spending" - if they pay more for a product (including ethical products) then it must deliver. The other pitfall is to assume that people will "purchase" sustainability. In reality, immediate return on investment is likely to be reputation-based, as responsibility may align a consumer with a company's values, but this may not necessarily translate into a purchase.

Connecting sustainability with the core business operations and consumers means that the CR team must work with other parts of the business, including brand, marketing and R&D. This enables opportunities for innovation. For example, sustainability could become an underlying brand proposition that offers opportunities for business - such as the M&S Plan A initiative - or become a part of the design process to create new visible products, as with Apple's new green MacBooks and Philips consumer electronics.

It may take time before large brands reap rewards from innovation in sustainability, but the consumer shift shows that sustainability needs to be more than a corporate level checklist.
As Wanliss-Orlebar says: "It's really clear now - this agenda is not going to go away. This is related to the [financial] crash and a licence to operate rather than a distant corporate responsibility issue. Previously, it was a shadow that may or may not have affected business. It now has to be built into the way of doing business - it needs to be tangible."

The ability to adapt in tough times has always been critical for businesses. In this downturn, it is not just about adapting to slower spending patterns but to smarter spending, where sustainability and values matter. It is the companies that can combine responsible business practice with their brand appeal that can create a competitive edge.
WGSN (2009
( De la Cruz )

how have your food choices changed?


Issues and solutions
"Retailers and suppliers must prepare for various scenarios, including the worst, with continued rises in commodity prices and slowing consumer spending. They must exhibit flexibility, minimise costs, maintain multiple supply chain choices and clearly differentiate from competitors."(Deloitte, July 7 2008)

Find ways of rewarding loyalty in times of significantly rising prices - reward schemes, vouchers, subscriptions and part-payment schemes
"The number of consumers actively seeking financial promotional deals is on the increase as rising food and utility prices begin to take their toll on spending, according to a survey carried out by GfK NOP. The poll of 1000 consumers revealed that 30 per cent were more active in seeking out promotions than a year ago and, of this group, 75 per cent cited a rise in food prices and the general cost of living." (Brand Republic News, June 13 2008)
"The British Retail Consortium claims shops have swallowed some of the cost [of the credit crunch] themselves. 'Overall, shop prices are up 1.2 per cent and food is up six,' a spokesman said. 'Retailers are doing an enormous amount to protect customers, even at the expense of their own margins.'"(Metro.co.uk, June 9, 2008)

Abel & Cole online organic food delivery service, UK
Make online shopping easier and more effective - utilise databases and customer information
Consumers are increasingly food-shopping online, particularly for basics in bulk, but the biggest obstacle remains not being able to see or feel produce. Overcome this by convincing consumers to trust your choices. Offer seasonal produce, with related recipes and detailed information on provenance.
"We are even looking at points reward programmes to encourage customers to look at and click on particular parts of emails to make them more effective as a means of communication."(Marketing Innovation Group i-newsletter, 2 July 2008)
Balance the cost of organic food with impeccable customer service
For some, the cost of organic is simply prohibitive, but many will pay the extra cost if they feel they receive the whole "organic experience".
In the same way that the eco-fashion industry has had to update their image, so must many sustainable or organic food retailers. Consider details such as the smell of the store, how customers are represented, display, and, most importantly, speed and service to rival any supermarket or luxury food outlet.
Be aware that in some regions where fresh, locally grown food is readily available, organic marketing will just not be effective. Focus more on common sense and traditional cooking, with an emphasis on freshness.

Clarify information - answer questions, be available, encourage dialogue and storytelling
Consumers are keen to support small food-retail businesses and local producers.

"As many as two in five (41%) believe producers and supermarkets should provide more details about food miles on the products they sell. Meanwhile, one in five (19%) of us already try to avoid products with high food miles by looking at where the products were grown." (Mintel Oxygen Report, August 2007)

Address the food needs of different segments in different ways
There are significant differences between the respective habits and desires of, say, young parents and baby boomers.

"[Baby boomers] want convenience (such as online shopping) but always expect quality. They live a fast life, but without fast food."(Ageless, WGSN Consumer Attitudes report, March 27 2007)

"Food and fuel prices have jumped by the highest amount in a year since records began, official figures have revealed. Young parents will suffer most, said Julian Walker of children's charity Barnardo's." (Metro.co.uk, June 9, 2008)

Help consumers rethink the way they eat
The treatment of animals reared for meat - poultry in particular - has recently come in for intense scrutiny and condemnation. Accompany consumers on their re-education regarding the food industry, use storytelling and provenance to allow them to make choices, and reintroduce the specialists as a source of information and advice.

"There is no good reason for eating the amount of meat that we do... If you're progressive. If you're driving a Prius, or you're shopping green or looking for organic, you should probably be a semi-vegetarian... Over-consumption of animals, and of course junk food, is the problem, along with our paltry consumption of plants."(Mark Bittman, speaking at the TED conference, December 2007)

Like innovators in the music industry who are starting to sell the merchandise and experience surrounding music rather than the music itself, retailers may have to address the needs of consumers who are investing in home-growing, or getting involved in food cooperatives and small urban farms.
Comportamiento del Consumidor ( Saul de la Cruz)