THE impact of weaving a social conscience into brand messaging is nothing new in the world of business. It has long been proven that consumers prefer brands that are ethical and support important causes. But which causes a company chooses to stand for can make a big difference, depending on where they’re advertising.
A new report from market researcher Kantar found 90 percent of consumers in Asia want brands to get involved in the issues they care about. While social engagement used to be a bonus and unique selling point, it has now become an expected norm amongst consumers.
Broad global issues still hold some sway with consumers, but going local with their messaging paid off the most for companies advertising in Asia. The less publicised, local issues resonated better with consumers in the region than global issues pushed by traditional media and big international brands, the research found.
While climate change and gender equality were the two high-profile issues most likely to be seen by people, causes closer to home mattered most to them personally. In all countries across Asia, top topics of concern were health and wellbeing and ending poverty.
On Day 3 of December – There are 3 key goals to Unilever's sustainable living plan!
The USLP sets out to decouple our growth from our environmental footprint, while increasing our positive social impact.#Unilever #graduates #Christmas #sustainable https://t.co/CEHV7beq1l pic.twitter.com/KBU0j06vs0
— Unilever Graduates (@UnileverGradsUK) December 3, 2018
In emerging markets, issues such as quality education and hunger also proved popular. While decent work and economic growth resonated in developed markets.
Companies that manage to perfect their social messaging are reaping the rewards as more than 60 percent of those questioned said they were willing to pay more for products with sustainable credentials.
This has been demonstrated in the bottom line of companies such as Unilever, whose sustainable living brand grew more than 50 percent faster than the rest of the business and accounted for 60 percent of growth in 2016.
However, companies need to be aware that consumers are quick to see through an opportunistic marketing campaign. Authenticity is key as consumers remained sceptical of brands that purportedly supported social causes while engaging in unsustainable business practices.
Consumers’ scepticism about brands social messaging varied across Asia Pacific. Only 33 percent of Australians felt that brands were able to authentically engage with issues, in comparison to India where 74 percent perceived it as trustworthy brand activity.