From tailored suits to the smoked trout purchased at local farmers markets, consumers increasingly demand to know exactly how and where their sought after products hail from.
This bourgeoning desire to understand the provenance of the goods bought has been examined in this month’s Monocle. The trend, coined by the magazine as the “Proximity Consumption Index”, or PCI, is gathering momentum across the developed world.
In short, PCI maintains that the more intermit consumers are with products they interact with everyday such as the things worn and eaten, the more inclined they are to want to know about the products source of origin and the social and environmental implications of their purchases.
This change in consumer psyche has also been documented by Edelman in its annual goodpurpose™ study, which surveys 6,000 consumers in 10 countries to track and understand people’s expectations of companies and brands, as well as their own attitudes and actions, toward addressing societal challenges such as t he environment, health, poverty, education and the arts.
The 2009 goodpurpose™ study revealed that consumers are placing increased demands on companies, brands – and themselves – to significantly increase their social commitment, with more than half of respondents globally saying they believe that a company or brand has earned their business because it has been doing its part to support good causes and being an ethical business citizen.
At the premium end of the market for example, CEOs are realising that shifts in consumer attitudes to product purchasing decisions has meant that the high margins charged for shoes and bags need more than just a logo and an advertising campaign with the budget of a box office movie to justify the swing tag.
Results from the 2009 goodpurpose™ study shows that for companies and brands, doing good and making money go hand-in-hand, as 61 percent of people – 83 percent in China – have bought a brand that supports a good cause even if it wasn’t the cheapest.
And when choosing between two brands that are the same in quality and price, 43 percent of people – reaching 71 percent in Brazil – are more interested in the social purpose of a corporation or brand than design or innovation (34 percent) and brand loyalty (24 percent).
Interestingly, consumers are also taking social responsibility into their own hands with 68 percent of people feeling that it is becoming more unacceptable in their local community not to make an effort to show concern for the environment and lead healthy lifestyles that impact less on the world around them.
As a result of this attitudinal shift, it is no surprise that that we increasingly hear “buzz” words such as “food miles” and “shop local” being thrown about suburban cafés by inner-urbans’ purchasing “Keep Cups” of organic fair trade coffee.
From PCI to goodpurpose™ the message is clear, if brands want to remain relevant to consumers then there’s a growing need for them to become a whole lot more transparent. And if this transparency comes at a cost to the consumer, research tells us that people are willing to take on some of the extra expense to ensure they’re purchasing with a clear conscience and contributing positively to society’s social fabric.
You can follow Edelman’s goodpurpose™ study on Twitter by searching: @goodpurpose.