Thursday, November 15, 2007

Public Philanthropy...Blogging Goodness

One of the many obvious benefits that blogging has brought to national brands is the ability to communicate their local community involvements and showcase their social conscience.

More and more studies are showing that doing good is good for business. So, companies are exploring new ways to exercise philanthropy. Some donate profits to good causes; some affiliate themselves with charities and some sponsor local little league baseball teams. Some brands like Dove are going as far as to create new causes!

Here's a viral campaign launched by Unilever for Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty"

From a research perspective, the information gathered from blogs and discussion boards is helping companies to choose which causes are priorities within their target groups. With products like Nielsen’s Buzz Metrics or Umbria’s MediaSense, companies are able to get a sense of how consumers are responding to their efforts or lack thereof.

According to a Jupiter Research study, bloggers are opinion leaders.
While user-generated content on the whole is increasing in volume and momentum, bloggers are not yet representative of the North American population but they do tend to have higher levels of education, affluence, more time spent online, and have obvious passion about issues they write about. Bloggers may be early indicators of mass trends within their respective fields of interest.

Thanks to Al Gore and other influencing factors like global weather changes, the environment appears to be at the top of the list for consumer discussion topics.

Recent research conducted across Canada by TNS Canadian Facts shows interesting demographic trends. There are three key insights:

• The trend is incredibly strong with youth. Given a choice to do business with companies who are socially and environmentally responsible, 41% of 18-24 years old surveyed agreed. (An Umbria environmental blog report showed a major male skew).

• The second demographic factor to consider is aging baby boomers, many now over 50. 43% of this attractive buyer target would consciously choose to do business with companies who are socially and environmentally responsible.

• The third powerful group was the female consumer, recognized as buying or influencing 80% of purchases. 42% of women vs. 33% of men consciously choose socially and environmentally responsible companies. Interestingly, the numbers increase significantly in boomer women with 57 % of women over 50 make this choice.

Umbria Inc., a market intelligence company that specializes in blog research and consumer generated media (CGM) for market insight, recently completed its first blogosphere research report outlining changing consumer attitudes and behaviors on environmental topics.

Umbria's research, based on data collected from more than 40 million blogs from mid-June through mid-September, 2007 showed that consumers are increasingly discussing environmental issues in online social media, with nearly 10,000 mentions per week* over the course of the summer months.

The study showed that virtually all industries are affected by consumers’ growing environment concerns. The top 10 personal changes discussed online by consumers were:

• General home: 19.7%
• Automobile: 2.9%
• Packaging: 9.6%
• Products/goods: 7.2%
• Lights/lightbulbs: 6.4%
• Paper: .9%
• Travel: 5.3%
• Shopping bags: 5.0%
• Stores/shops: 4.0%
• Electronics/cellular: 3.3%

While the environment is only one of many issues that consumers care deeply about, the principle behind the benefits of aligning brands appropriately remain the same across all others.

For this environmentally focused study, specific brands bubbled to the top of conversations. As expected, not all were referenced positively. The five brands mentioned most frequently were Toyota/Prius (majority leader), Google, General Motors, Exxon Mobil and GE.

The insights gathered using the Blog metrics tool provide invaluable data to companies that have interests in aligning with these targets. Whether it’s used as a barometric measure of consumer attitudes or to understand competitive standings, this type of research has long legs and a lot of walking to do.

Look for more blogger-based display media solutions coming to the party.

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