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Euro RSCG Worldwide Reveals 76% of Americans Say Business Bears as Much Responsibility as Government in Driving Social Change 

Euro RSCG Worldwide announced the launch of a new thought leadership series, the Consumer Conscience Study, designed to help brands communicate with the new "activist consumer." The first iteration of the study, "Blueprint for a Sustainable Brand," shows that the majority of consumers have moved beyond seeking companies that share their values and now feel a personal responsibility to censure unethical companies by avoiding their products.

The study was released at the 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) Transformation Conference, an annual gathering of advertising and marketing executives. Kate Robertson, Euro RSCG UK group chairman, unveiled the findings during a panel discussion on "Sustainability as a Transformative Business Imperative."

"Close scrutiny of everything we do and say as businesses is no longer optional. The tidal wave of the social media revolution is inexorably rolling over us and exposing all—everything will come out, if not today then for sure tomorrow," said Robertson. "So of course responsibility and sustainability are top of mind for consumers and customers; it's not hard when they're being shown how irresponsible some businesses are. This is the flexion point—and we're best prepared, attending Transformation, to deal with this new relationship between brands and consumers." The panel represents the 4A's commitment to developing industry-leading content about the most important issues in media and marketing today.

"As a forward-thinking association, we strive to be aware of issues like sustainability that are becoming more of a business imperative for our membership," said Nancy Hill, President-CEO, 4A's. "And we will continue to create and provide platforms for these important conversations."

Key findings of the study include:

1.       In our new world of radical transparency, business is under a microscope. Consumers are more focused than ever on corporate values and reputation.

  • 69% of Americans say they are "paying more attention than in the past to the environmental and/or social impact of the products [they] buy," and 71% believe "the most successful and profitable businesses in the future will be those that practice sustainability."
  • 67% of Americans say they prefer to buy from companies that share their values.
  • Americans point to transparency as an indicator of a successful business: Nearly three-quarters (74%) say "the more open and collaborative a business is, the more likely it is to succeed."

2.       Consumers expect the companies with which they do business to be agents of change. More than three-quarters of Americans (76%) say "business bears as much responsibility as government for driving positive social change."

3.       Consumers are punishing companies that fail to meet their expectations. Globally, 70% of consumers say they have a responsibility to "censure unethical companies by avoiding their products." 

  • China (91%) and India (89%) were the markets most likely to believe consumers have a duty to censure unethical companies by avoiding their products.

4.       Consumers are empowered by social media—and they know their own strength.  

  • 44% of Americans believe the greatest change agent in the future will be "the people, empowered by social media"–more than twice the number of respondents who chose politics or corporations as the greatest agent of change.

To download a copy of "Consumer Conscience Study: Blueprint for a Sustainable Brand," please visit http://www.aaaa.org/news/Documents/euro_blueprint.pdf.

About the Study

The Consumer Conscience Study surveyed 4,000 adults in six markets—Brazil, China, France, India, the UK, and the US—in 2007 and again in the winter of 2011.

About Euro RSCG Worldwide

Euro RSCG Worldwide is a leading integrated marketing communications agency and was the first agency to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year. Euro RSCG is made up of 233 offices in 75 countries and provides advertising, marketing, corporate communications, and digital and social media solutions to clients, including Air France, BNP Paribas, Charles Schwab, Citigroup, Danone Group, IBM, Kraft Foods, Lacoste, Merck, Pernod Ricard, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Reckitt Benckiser, Sanofi, and Volvo. Headquartered in New York, Euro RSCG Worldwide is the largest unit of Havas, a world leader in communications (Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).

About the 4A's

The 4A's (American Association of Advertising Agencies) is the national trade association of the advertising agency business which provides leadership, advocacy, and guidance to the industry. Its membership comprises virtually all of the large, multinational agencies and hundreds of small and mid-sized agencies from across the country. The 1,200 member agency offices served by the 4A's employ 65,000 people, offer a wide range of marketing communications services, and place 80 percent of all national advertising. The management-oriented association founded in 1917 helps its members build their businesses, and acts as the industry's spokesperson with government, media, and the public sector. 4A's Web site: www.aaaa.org Twitter: @4As.

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