New Consumer Index Tracks Socially Conscious Spending

As consumers become more socially conscious and committed to safety, responsibility and sustainability, it only makes sense to track their investment in safe, compliant and responsible companies. As revealed in the State Of Social Responsibility Survey, consumers are becoming more serious about using their spending power to drive positive change. Case in point? Nearly 30 percent of consumers said that they plan to increase their amount of purchases from socially responsible companies in 2013. Compare that to 18 percent of customers who reported buying more from socially conscious companies in 2012. The study also created a baseline score, the Conscious Consumer Spending Index (#CCSIndex), which can be used to identify future trends. The #CCSIndex score is calculated by evaluating the importance consumers place on purchasing from socially responsible companies, actions taken to support such products and services, and future intent to increase the amount they spend with responsible organizations. Although the initial score of 65 out of 100 doesn’t have much meaning on its own, it does provide a benchmark with which to measure future progress. An increasing amount of research speaks to the relatively rapid growth of the socially conscious consumer. Here are some additional findings from Good.Must.Grow’s survey: A majority of respondents reported being ‘green’, reducing consumption, supporting non-profits and buying responsibly as being very or somewhat important. When asked about charitable giving, 21% of consumers said they gave more to charities in 2012 when compared to the previous year. Female consumers in the 25-34 age group were much more likely to be engaged in socially responsible shopping than males ages 45 to 54. C’mon, guys—step up to the plate! Despite an increase in socially responsible shopping, consumers still love a good deal. More than 50% of respondents expressed a preference for a ‘Buy One, Get One’ as opposed to a paltry 15% for a ‘Buy One, Give One’ deal. Individuals see themselves as playing a critical role in driving positive change. Local and federal government ranked last in this area. Consumers rate how a company treats its employees and how its operations impact the environment most highly when gauging social responsibility. Consumers have a healthy skepticism about companies’ ‘social’ claims and may not always take them at face value. The lesson there? Don’t make empty promises—fulfill the claims you deliver and you’ll be more likely to win customer trust and loyalty. We’re excited for next year’s...

Read More

Bobbleheads: A Story of Promotional Products Delivering Measurable ROI

Bobbleheads: A Story of Promotional Products Delivering Measurable ROI

Successful promotional products are all about developing brand affinity—an emotional connection made with a brand through the magic of 3-D advertising. But calculating the ROI of using promotional products compared to other marketing tools or tactics often presents a challenge for brand management. For example, a statement like, “This creative giveaway resulted in this specific sales result,” is a calculation all too frequently unavailable. Enter the mighty Bobblehead, or even better yet, the calculable ROI of the powerful resin figure. A recent Wall Street Journal article detailed the top 11 MLB bobblehead giveaways, and ROI (calculated as increased attendance) topped out with a startling increase of nearly 50 percent. Of the nearly 3 million bobbleheads that will be given away at stadiums this year, none are more popular than the Ken Griffey Jr. character for the Seattle Mariners. Some 46,000 fans were hoping to get one of the only 20,000 made. Even better—attendance was up over 48 percent for the Saturday giveaway as measured against previous Saturday games. While other factors (like the opponent) can make a difference, it’s clear that giveaways like these bobbleheads, featuring current stars, past stars, announcers, etc., drive fans into the ballpark. The Kansas City Royals, arguably a little short on talent, are certainly not short on creativity. They’ve even used condiments as bobblehead designs. (For the record, relish beat out ketchup and mustard, with an increase of 17.5 percent in attendance.) And if you think about it, it makes sense. Baseball is, after all, about fun. And promotional products like bobbleheads can help bring the fun. QCA founding-member BDA is a big player in the bobblehead space. BDA’s CEO Jay Deutsch, in a recent interview with Big League Stew, said that bobbleheads have gone way beyond being considered a “trend”—they are big business. In addition to creating bobbleheads for customers in Major League Baseball, BDA counts major brands like Coca-Cola and Target as customers, as well as the NFL. “The modern bobble has been around for more than six decades, so they are definitely here to stay in one form or another,” said Deutsch. “Over the past few years in particular, their popularity has really hit a high point that I don’t foresee diminishing anytime soon.” Deutsch recounts ball clubs reporting fans lining up outside the ballpark hours before giveaway games to try and ensure they receive a bobble. Fans are so bobble-crazed...

Read More

The Best Times of the Year to Buy Stuff [And Why It Matters]

The Best Times of the Year to Buy Stuff [And Why It Matters]

If you’re in the promotional products industry, it’s a good idea to stay tuned into consumer buying habits. That’s where information like Consumer Reports’ month-by-month shopping guide can come in handy. Their product research experts have scoured their research to identify which items you should buy in a particular month in order to cash in on big discounts. And although you might not sell these items, knowing what consumers will be shopping for can help you plan your own promotional product strategy. Let’s say you’re helping a client with a January event, for example. Since swimwear is typically purchased during that time, perhaps you could offer branded sunglasses. Or in May, when shoppers might be searching for athletic apparel and shoes, it might be a good idea to offer poly/cotton apparel or portable drinkware. By aligning your own strategy with retail and consumer habits, you’ll likely boost the efficacy of your product offering, making your clients happy. And when your clients are happy, well, there’s not much better! Since we’re headed into September (farewell, summer), now’s the time to buy things like bicycles, digital cameras, lawn mowers, small consumer electronics and snow blowers. Have a green thumb? Stock up on shrubs, trees and perennials to get a jumpstart on next year’s landscaping. Here’s a sampling of which items to put at the top of your “to buy” list, depending on the time of year: October Computers Lawn mowers Winter coats November Baby products Camcorders GPS navigators TVs December Home appliances (large and small) Toys Small consumer electronics January Bedding Swimwear Treadmills and ellipticals February Humidifiers Indoor furniture March Small consumer electronics Winter sports gear April Laptops Spring clothing May Athletic apparel and shoes Carpeting Camping and outdoor gear June Indoor furniture Swimwear Computers July Indoor and outdoor furniture Swimwear August Air conditioners Dehumidifiers Snow blowers Head over to the Consumer Reports website for a full run-down. And in the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. Do you pay attention to retail habits and forecasts to help guide your own promotional products strategy? Image: Lomo-Cam via Compfight...

Read More

Nielsen Defines The Global Socially Conscious Consumer

Nielsen Defines The Global Socially Conscious Consumer

As safety, responsibility and sustainability become increasingly important to consumers and businesses alike, a new type of customer has emerged: the socially conscious consumer. And as a result, it’s critical for companies to not only adopt safe, responsible and sustainable practices—it’s also vital that they share that information with this particular target audience. To help with those marketing efforts, a Nielsen report defines the global, socially conscious consumer using data gathered from more than 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world. Who Is The Socially Conscious Consumer? Nielsen’s survey results show three key findings about the socially conscious consumer: 63% are under the age of 40. 66% think companies should support the environment. These consumers are wiling to pay more for socially responsible products and services. What Matters To The Socially Conscious Consumer Understanding today’s socially conscious consumer isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. It’s also important to understand what sort of causes these consumers are particularly likely to support, valuable data that can help you identify your company’s priorities and what sort of marketing message you create to help disseminate that information. Nielsen’s research identified a number of specific causes (as pictured below), with the following issues at the top of the list: Ensure environmental sustainability (66%) Improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training and education (56%) Eradicate poverty and extreme hunger (53%) Provide relief following natural disasters (52%) Support small business and entrepreneurship (50%) Increase access to technology (50%) Nielsen’s survey not only contains valuable marketing data about an important audience segment—it also underscores the larger importance of identifying and implementing sustainable, responsible and socially compliant business practices. Consumers are ready to support these priorities not just with brand advocacy, but also with their wallets—and in today’s marketplace, it no longer makes sense to ignore safety and responsibility at the expense of your company’s reputation and bottom line. Were you surprised by any of Nielsen’s findings? What specific causes do you think companies should support? Image: shimelle via Compfight...

Read More

Consumers Respond to Socially Responsible Companies

Consumers Respond to Socially Responsible Companies

As if helping the environment isn’t enough, here’s another reason to consider creating and implementing a corporate sustainability plan. Consumers respond favorably to socially responsible companies, as shown in the 2013 Sustainability Leaders Survey—and that can have a big impact not just on your brand awareness, but also your bottom line. The survey, completed earlier this year, polled more than 1,000 qualified sustainability experts from corporate, academic, government, media and service organizations around the world. These respondents were asked to name companies that they thought demonstrated a commitment to social responsibility and sustainability (without having been given a prompt from a list of candidates). The companies at the top of the list? Unilever continued in the top spot and managed to increase its score from 17% of total mentions to 25%. Patagonia ranked second with an increase from 7 to 14% of total mentions, and Interface and Walmart were third and fourth with 11% and 8%, respectively. The survey results not only revealed examples of brands who have built a reputation for sustainability and corporate responsibility—it also showed that, as a whole, companies have a long way to go. “Companies continue to rank low among global institutions when it comes to sustainability leadership, though a few companies—mostly the usual suspects—continue to rise above the others,” writes Joel Makover for Sustainability.com. So if not the corporate world, where are all the sustainability leaders, according to the survey? ‘Social Entrepreneurs’ are perceived as the sector that’s most effectively advancing the sustainability agenda. The scientific community, NGO leaders and leaders of multinational companies also appear to be having a positive impact with survey respondents. The message to those of us in the corporate world? Sustainability, as part of a larger social responsibility implementation, doesn’t just make sense—it makes for good business, too. And in today’s marketplace, a focus on responsibility, safety and compliance is becoming more important than ever—and something that can separate successful companies from their less successful counterparts. Image: sillygwailo via Compfight...

Read More

What Happens To Donated Clothes

What Happens To Donated Clothes

Donating clothes is something that many of us do throughout the year, but the million dollar question remains: what happens to your clothes once they’re donated? Leave it to the intrepid minds at NPR to discover the answer. A recent Parallels story takes a closer look behind the scenes of the clothing donation cycle. One common misconception? That donated clothing stays local to the area. It might, yet as Jackie Northam reported, organizations like Washington, D.C.-based Martha’s Table only have so much room. At that point, non-profit organizations typically call in a textile recycling company, which usually takes about 80 percent of the donations. From there, here’s a look at the intended destination for the clothing: 30% of the materials are made into wiping cloths for commercial and industrial use. Approximately 20% of the materials are converted to fibers used in an array of other products, including auto and home insulation, pillow stuffing and carpet padding. And about 45% of clothing is exported to buyers throughout the world. One revelation that might surprise you? Clothing donation is an incredibly competitive business. “Items are bought and sold by the pound, and you can literally make or lose a deal over half a cent a pound, quarter of a cent a pound,” says Robert Goode, owner of Mac Recyling, in an NPR interview. And just as product quality and compliance issues are an important part of the promotional products industry, they’re an increasingly important factor in clothing donations, too. “[Jackie] King [Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles] executive director, says textile recyclers are still finding strong demand for used clothing,” writes Northam. “But she says selling cheap garments, like those made in Bangladesh, is becoming increasingly difficult.” King shared another particularly sobering statistic. About 85 percent of all clothing sold each year ends up in a landfill. The solution? Donate! Were you surprised at the stats revealed in the NPR story? And did it change your mind about how much clothing you’ll donate this year? Image: jdaviddean via Compfight...

Read More