Friday, May 21, 2010

Consumers want--but aren't getting--more engagement

Heads-up, companies (and other organizations):  Despite all the talk about crowdsourcing and conversations, three-quarters of consumers give companies a C, D, or F grade on how they're engaging consumers around critical business issues.  Yet more than 80 percent of consumers "believe their ideas can help companies create products and services that are a win for consumers, business and society."

The data come from the 2010 Cone Shared Responsibility Study (see the annnouncement or sign up to receive a free copy here--a nice touch is that one sign up lets you see all their reports).

Where do consumers think they can contribute?  From the report summary: 
A majority of consumers want to be engaged on four key responsible business pillars, including how a company conducts its business (85%), its products and packaging (83%), its support of social and environmental issues (81%) and its marketing and advertising (74%).
And here's how they're willing to act:
Consumers are prepared to dedicate time and money to help influence corporate social/environmental practices through surveys and research (70%), buying or boycotting a company's products (44%) or through email, phone or employee communications (32%), among other activities.
Those are specific, concrete actions and wishes.  In contrast, 87% of consumers see corporate communications as one-sided, and 67% just think the messages are confusing.

Because the report includes lots of questions to tease out consumer feelings about sustainability, environmental and other social issues, there are lots of data points here that will be of interest to education and nonprofit communicators--especially those that partner with corporations on those issues.  And the data point up a gap that doesn't seem to be closing yet, between consumers' belief that they can offer good ideas and corporations' hewing to the traditional top-down model of communication.

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