In 2008-2009 BBMG issued reports looking at data of a growing segment of conscious consumers – those who “purchase with a purpose.” But wanting to meet and engage more consumers, we created the first online community connecting conscious consumers with sustainable brands, resulting in the first co-created research report in our arena.
BBMG, Community Manager: Ian Beck Executive Creative Director: Mitch Baranowski Creative Director: Scott Ketchum Art Director: Molly Conley Graphic Designer: Jess Oswald Producer: Morgen Wolf
This entry has a nice, two-way dialogue between brands and consumers and offers a well-developed toolkit to support sustainable brands in consumer outreach and involvement. We also appreciated that the project provides a possible new methodological direction for marketing companies to consider
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
The challenge was framed under two buckets, the first of which relating to the actual content of the report. Against this backdrop, some fundamental questions emerge: How will tomorrow’s brands authentically take sustainability to scale? How will the economy generate growth and value beyond just more consumption? And, how can New Consumers shape, co-create and inspire sustainable innovation and positive social impact?
Our second challenge relates to our research perspective. We wanted to go from a one time national poll to having ongoing conversations with our subjects, bringing the consumer/people into the room and having ongoing relationships with them that centered around shared values and common goals. So, in March 2010 we created The Collective, the first private online community connecting conscious consumers with sustainable brands and related causes. Today, the community stands at 1,200+ screened members with engagement levels that are twice as high as your average brand community. We aren’t polling these folks once a year; we’re engaging them every week (if not every day). These members are not paid; they show up to have a voice in the process and to join the growing sustainability movement. For many “quants,” this will skew our research. We understand. For many marketers intent on scaling sustainability, we hope you share our view that a better understanding of what drives our intended recipients makes for better communications.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
BBMG believes branding is in the middle of a paradigm shift from brand 1.0 to brand 2.0. We’re seeing the evolution of branding away a discipline that focuses narrowly on logos and taglines to sell products (1.0) and toward a more inclusive model (2.0) that’s about creating engaging experiences, co-creating solutions and becoming a platform for people to meet their practical needs, realize their values and become part of something bigger than themselves.
At the same time, we’ve noticed through two years of national statistically significant research that consumers are going through their own shift. We’re calling it the rise of the New Consumer – practically-driven, values-aspirational consumers and citizens who we believe are the key to tipping sustainability from green to mainstream.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
We wanted to authentically represent and be true to our research subjects, the new consumers. We also targeted business leaders and peer agencies who could find our research useful in their work.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
This report is statistically founded in BBMG’s consumer segmentation analysis and builds on previous quantitative and qualitative research. As an emerging segment, the New Consumer represents an integration of what we call Enlighteneds (10% of U.S. consumers) and Aspirationals (20% of U.S. consumers). For that baseline research, we surveyed 2,000 adults nationwide with a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points. The survey sample was distributed and subsequently weighted to reflect U.S census data with regard to key demographics such as gender, region, education and the like.
In March 2010, BBMG launched The Collective, the first private online community designed to connect consumers with sustainable brands and related causes. Members meet demo- graphic and psychographic criteria consistent with the New Consumer segmentation model.
This report is based on a comprehensive analysis of more than 2,650 conversations conducted in The Collective between August 2010 and January 2011. From photo journaling and product testing to digital diaries and innovation challenges, members of The Collective provided ideas, insights and inspiration to companies and causes across a multitude of verticals, including food and beverage, fashion, financial services, household cleaners, home furnishings, paper goods, wine and spirits, and third-party certifications. In addition, BBMG designed and fielded several dedicated follow-up activities to validate or clarify initial findings.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
Our research underlines the new consumers’ tremendous potential for social impact. Like never before, consumers, companies and communities are joining together to find new ways to meet the world’s growing needs and solve increasingly urgent economic, social and environmental challenges. At this moment of great promise, we believe that the values, priorities and actions of New Consumers will lead the way.
Thinking holistically, they see the connections between people, products and the planet and they’re choosing solutions that work better for all of us. Tapping their creativity, they are stepping forward to create and share their own goods and services, inspire more meaningful experiences and build enduring relationships that give strength and resiliency to our communities. Seeking new opportunities, they are taking control of their future and taking action to pro- mote their own—and our collective – security, health, happiness and success. To the companies, brands and causes that respect New Consumers’ passion and leverage their potential to bring a more sustainable and purposeful marketplace to life, we say welcome to a new day.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
Our research speaks a great deal about this new era of community and co-creation. It would be interesting to explore an alternative platform for our research that aligns with this focus on a material and practical level. So beyond a PDF, perhaps we might explore something like a wiki or other interactive format which would allow new consumers to actively contribute, share values and tell their stories.