Advertisers: Teens Value Environment, Buy From Socially Responsible Companies

Media_news
Media Daily News
by Erik Sass

TO SERVE A GROWING MARKET, advertisers want to gauge teen sensibilities. Want to reach this lucrative demo? Go green.

JWT’s online study discovered that more than
80% of American teenagers are concerned about the environment and the
role of the United States in causing pollution, with 54% saying they
are "strongly bothered" by these issues, according to the results of a
new survey by global ad giant JWT released Monday.

The future is not all bleak, however: of 767 U.S. teens who
participated in JWT’s online study, 77% believe it’s their
responsibility to care for the environment, 61% said they think their
generation will be more environmentally responsible than older
generations, and 78% think there is still time to repair environmental
damage.

The ideological leanings of teenagers are coming under increasing
scrutiny from marketers that want to distance themselves from the
common perception among young people that corporations are
irresponsible–or even malicious. Eighty percent of teens surveyed said
corporations should be held to an ethical standard of environmental
conduct, and 59% said corporations should bear most of the
responsibility for cleaning up the environment. Most useful: 75% said
they would buy environmentally friendly products if available.

In the same vein, a 2006 study by Alloy Media and Marketing and Harris
Interactive showed that college students rank social responsibility
higher than celebrity endorsement as factors in their choice of
consumer brands–with 33% of about 1,800 respondents saying they prefer
brands known for involvement with not-for-profit causes, community
activism or environment-friendly practices.

Among the specific brands mentioned by college students, Ben &
Jerry’s was admired for its "Lick Global Warming" campaign, while
Newman’s Own earned praise for donating all profits to charity. Burt’s
Bees, Yoplait, and the Body Shop also fared well. Twenty-four percent
of respondents said they had purchased a product in the last year
because it was "socially conscious."

Discussing that study, Alloy Senior Vice President for Strategic
Marketing Samantha Skey remarked: "We are seeing that today’s young
people expect corporations to be socially responsible, and that
students prefer to associate with brands that they perceive to be
positive contributors to the community."

To shed the association with environmental malfeasance, big
corporations are seeking to position themselves as socially and
politically progressive through involvement with charitable causes and
improved corporate practices. As it released the survey results, JWT
also announced its sponsorship of RelightNY, an activist organization
founded by 15-year-old Avery Hairston. The project aims to distribute
energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs to low-income families.
It’s not all about the environment, however.

A third study from the National Consumers League and Fleishman-Hillard
International Communications, also released in 2006, found that fully
76% of respondents ranked a company’s employee welfare ahead of all
other considerations–including environmental stewardship and corporate
philanthropy.

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