British farmers wilting as supermarkets pile on the promotions


Posted by Alex Kragiopoulos

The team at Responsible research have been keeping an eye on the issues raised by dairy farmers recently in relation to the price they are receiving for their milk. However today’s headline in the observer points to the strain placed on farmers in all sectors as a result of the recession. Aside from the dairy farmers, farmers in other sectors have claimed that “home grown foods will be a thing of the past unless supermarkets share the cost of endless special offers”. The article has raised concerns here at responsible research. Surely the supermarkets have a responsibility to ensure that the futures of farmers in all sectors are guaranteed as well as delivering the best prices for consumers?

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Tags:  farmers struggle;Tesco pricing; National Farmers Union;empathy to farmers

Trust - its only a little word but has US in the middle


Posted by Alan Bowman

As researchers we spend a lot of time talking to customers and consumers. A recurrent theme over the last 5-6 months has been the frequency of references they have made to trust. As consumer uncertainty and concern increases, the spotlight tends to shine ever more brightly on this facet of a brand or organisations make up.
Trust is not an attribute which can be treated like other aspects of the brand .. 'trust has to be earned' - therefore it is a response to some kind of action which has a benefit to a consumer or customer. Is it surprising that the categories which are least trusted currently are banks; newspapers; politicians and energy providers?

In simple terms consumers will be frustrated enough to let rip with comments like - 'how can you trust people who profit when we are struggling?' In this regard it is indeed energy suppliers who are most criticised - trust needs not only to be felt but to be believed. Transparency and honesty are companions of trust in an emotional sense and if they are absent or suspected of being absent then trust cannot develop.
A few years ago we worked with a brand that had the mission to become the 'most loved brand'. Without resorting to scripture there are three facets which tend to go together faith, hope and love - in a similar way our research over several projects has defined the relationship between being personable, trust and friendship. A brand may struggle to achieve love but many brands are seen as friends - and friends above all are people you trust.
Trust takes time to build but it is also evidential - it is the actions taken that underline trust; how an organisation responds, supports or listens. With our focus at Responsible research we believe that trust is the most important attribute brands need to develop during the current climate. It starts with an attitude - organisations need to trust their customers and their staff - uniting the two builds trust more rapidly.
How many customer facing staff truly trust the organisation or brand that employs them or indeed the values they are asked to embrace as employees?
So to build trust our experience points to uniting behind some much higher goal - addressing a social need, one which reflects aspects of the brand values of the organisation, but then acting upon them so that they become experienced by customers. This is not Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) even though we believe that is really important here at Responsible research. No, it is about something more tangible, experiential and recognisably credible. The brands that get this right will be matching the needs of the new consumer mindset which is fast developing during this time of economic crisis.
The emergence of new challenger brands who can earn the trust of consumers will thrive in this new world we have entered, because it is easier to demonstrate and develop trusted behaviour if you are challenging established and distrusted brands. Watch this space!

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Tags:  Trust; challenger brands; customers; energy suppliers; Responsible research

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Promotional Society


Posted by Alan Bowman

Does everything need to be driven by promotional activity?

Birmingham City Council have partnered with Nectar to award points to any household with a Nectar card who put out rubbish for recycling. Each time the bin is emptied the collector scans a bar code which allocates 25 Nectar points to the registered cardholder.

It seems that in a world driven by promotional activity an incentive is required to recycle. Maybe this is true as recycling rates start to plateau after several months of increasing penetration levels - but what value does this place on the act of recycling itself? Turning to schemes that are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, like Nectar, diminishes the impact of any individual redemption and this scheme strikes us as a case in point.

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Tags:  NectarBirminghamIncentivesrecycling

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