Earlier, people wanted products. Now they want a lifestyle. Advertising has thus has changed too.
Changing Consumer Values
The Traditional Symbols of success and accomplishment have changed from the usual status symbols to inner values: wearing designer clothes, owning an expensive car and a prestigious credit card now come way after being in control of one’s own life, being satisfied with one’s own life having a good family life and being able to afford what is really important in life.
A McCann-Erickson study for the UNEP found that consumers are most concerned about,
1. Environment protection
2. Protection of animals and a hatred of testing on animals
3. Concern for the poor and about human exploitation.
Also witness the popularity of Dow Sustainability Index and Ethical investment mutual funds.
Studies have also found that consumers don’t trust decision makers like politicians. But they do trust Brands.
It also helps that regulating agencies in countries around the world are gunning for stricter labeling of consumer items.
The following labels are becoming common –
Recycled, Ozone friendly, Biodegradable, Phosphate free, Organic, Fat-free, Non-toxic and Cruelty free.
My only concern:
Regulators worldwide must ensure that these labels are not being put for cosmetic purposes only.
The Challenge for Companies
They must adapt to shifting consumer values.
For starters, many businesses are quietly embracing sustainability. Other smart companies use the environment plank as a Re- branding, repositioning tool .
Example 1: Anita Roddick’s Body Shop has been a consistent Environment champion and this is one of their key selling points too.
Example 2: Dupont often present its innovations as environment savers.
Example 3: Petroleum majors like BP and Shell have for long carried advertisements for their energy-efficiency and Renewable Energy projects.
Example 4: Automakers are in change mode everywhere. Honda and Toyota are in the forefront with steams of advertisements for their hybrid ‘fuel-cell’ powered cars. It gives their brands a ‘cool’ cutting-edge image.
Effective Advertising By Environment Groups
We all have liked great ads by groups like World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, and others. In fact, ad agencies do these ads to position themselves a bit higher than their competitors. It helps that these ads also get them the awards.
Using Advertising for mounting pressure
Take for example, ForestEthics’ new online advertising campaign against Victoria’s Secret. It is Flash Animation Highlighting the company’s environmental record.
So, it goes to prove that advertising not only sells stuff, it also can save the environment.