Cone’s dedicated Research & Insights team continuously monitors new and developing trends to provide you with cutting-edge innovations, need-to-know best practices and compelling insights in the marketplace.
Gen Z has gotten a bad rap. Yes – their faces may be glued to their smartphones, but don’t mistake that for a disinterest in what’s happening in the world around them. This generation is a force to be reckoned with – using their digital devices to spread social and environmental messages far and wide. But they’re not going it alone – they expect companies to be their partners in change. Companies: it’s time to enlist Gen Z to share your CSR message.
By now, most of the 20.4 million students attending American colleges and universities this fall have returned to school. For many, going to class and socializing with friends are not the only things on their mind; many are wondering how they are going to pay for their education.
As companies continue to campaign for acceptance, many have begun to reflect on their customer bases to ensure that all fans are acknowledged. Some brands have begun portraying non-traditional individuals in their ads, while others have created moments-in-time to encourage inclusivity. While these campaigns spark conversation, one brand is focused on more than raising awareness - it innovated its product to reach a broader audience.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall a week ago but the damage it leaves behind will not dissipate so quickly. The storm is a one-in-1,000 year rain event, dumping 24.5 trillion gallons of rain and displacing countless individuals in its wake. As relief workers begin to grapple with the scale of the disaster, the cry for help is urgent and widespread. This call extends to companies who are stepping up by providing money, in-kind donations and solutions.
Women’s Equality Day (August 26) marked 97 years since women in the United States were granted the right to vote. But when it comes to establishing a holiday to commemorate the elimination of our gender wage gap, the outlook is bleak.
Many fast food companies have started to address consumers’ desires to eat more consciously – and Panera has been on the frontlines of helping consumers make better dining choices. What started with the “No No List” has evolved into a series of commitments to take ‘clean eating’ mainstream. And the café chain isn’t stopping anytime soon. The next step in the menu cleanup process is focused on informing consumers about Panera’s beverage options with each sip they take.
In the lead-up to National Honey Bee Day (August 19), I was inspired to take a look at brands’ recent efforts to ensure the health and stability of our tiny pollinator friends. In the past few years, we have seen a host of organizations garnering attention for the issue, first with research and later, amped-up efforts with highly visible, consumer-facing campaigns to bridge the awareness gap.
Emotional storytelling can be a powerful tool to tell a story, especially when it comes to causes that resonate with the human experience. Sharing stories like these with consumers and the media can prove to be a challenge – it’s a cluttered space with endless content being shared across various channels, from social media to online to print. Breaking through can be difficult, but once you bring together the right assets, a compelling call to action, and consistently keep the cause at the forefront, your news will spread through the internet faster than you can say “feel good story.”
Over the past few years, industry-leader REI has sparked movements focused on getting people outside during Black Friday and advancing gender equality in the outdoors through campaigns like #OptOutside and Force of Nature. Now, another outdoor company is gearing up to add a new dimension to level nature’s playing field.
Every year, approximately 3.6 million Americans miss or delay medical appointments because they don’t have access to reliable transportation. Minorities, people with low incomes, and those with chronic illnesses are affected disproportionately. These cancelations not only affect the individual missing their appointment - leading to untreated symptoms - but can also cause longer wait times and rushed appointments for other patients. In an effort to address the issue, two rideshare companies are using their assets to provide reliable transportation to those in need.
In the last several years, the meal kit industry has grown exponentially with the rise of companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated and PeachDish (to name just a few). Meal kits are big business – a $1.5 billion industry projected to grow. That’s a lot of cardboard, plastic and freezer gel. However, recent news and industry temperature checks show I might not be the only one hitting pause on the weekly delivery.
In 2016, we saw nontraditional sustainability reports gain traction with Patagonia's report, which swapped the text-heavy format for an image-laden report focusing on action and the outdoors. But the stand-out activation was Heineken’s video featuring a Dutch rapper and spoken word artist who delivered the report stats in a concise and compelling way. This year, the brewing company is taking an even more interactive approach – serving up data in a fun and entertaining way.
Today, consumers increasingly expect companies to address social justice issues, with nearly nine-in-ten (87%) citing racial equality as an issue they would like companies to prioritize. Some companies have tried to shed light on the topic, but with little understanding of the community, their efforts backfired. However, one company with a longstanding history of support for racial equality recently dared to share a bold message.
Companies have been creating innovative products out of waste for years; and with each material advancement, the envelope is pushed further with more integrated, holistic communications campaigns. However, many of these previous campaigns skirted away from the gritty aspect of waste. Now, one fashion brand is taking a nontraditional approach to creating beauty out of waste.
With over 700 million users, Instagram has quickly become the go-to platform for younger audiences. And, as the social media channel grows and builds out its marketing abilities, brands are beginning their foray into the world of Instagram advertising. Recently, one brand took an entirely new approach, harnessing the platform to drive home a long-form social impact message on a short-form channel.
Recently, Cone Communications attended the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show, the largest specialty food industry trade event in North America, to get a look at the latest innovations from food companies around the world. The event brought together more than 2,600 exhibitors from around the globe who featured more than 180,000 specialty food and beverage products.
As summer heats up, many Americans take this time to enjoy the glories of nature by visiting our nation’s vast National Parks system. Yet, those same national treasures are in peril due to proposed National Parks Service budget cuts. As discussions on the topic heat up, many companies are showing their support for the outdoors through campaigns raising money, awareness and attendance at America’s National Parks.
With 70 percent of consumers expecting companies to take a stand on social justice issues such as the refugee crisis and women’s rights, many companies have begun sharing messages of acceptance for groups facing adversity. And this year, we saw a landslide of companies show their support for the LGBTQ community in celebration of Pride Month. Now, one brand that has been flying the rainbow flag since 1994 is building on its philanthropic support and advancing rhetoric around the issue to increase awareness.
In recent years, the refugee crisis has expanded to unprecedented levels, with nearly 1 in 100 people worldwide displaced from their homes. Amidst a widespread perception of federal inaction, companies and NGOs have seen an increasing demand from consumers to step up and do their part to make a difference. In fact, more than two-thirds of consumers cited immigration as a top priority for companies to take the lead on.
Pride Month is a time when a historically marginalized community’s voice takes center stage, in the hopes of finding common ground with opposition, promoting educated dialogue and celebrating progress. This Pride Month, several companies are standing out by supporting the LGBTQ community in a genuine way. Here are four tips to authentically take part in the conversation:
An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, making ocean trash a serious environmental threat to the ecosystem and the many islands that depend on pristine beaches to boost tourism. In the past, organizations have combated the issue by educating tourists and individuals who feel removed from the issue. But now, one partnership is tackling problems on the ground while also addressing the source of the issue.
Air pollution remains an unseen global killer – with nearly 6.5 million deaths a year attributed to pollution we breathe every day – that's four times the amount of people killed on the world's roads, according to The Guardian. In fact, in the U.K. alone, high levels of NO2 cause more than 60 premature deaths a day.
This week, the Cone Communications team headed out to Sustainable Brands in Detroit for four days of conversation around "Redefining the Good Life." From inspirational plenaries to tours experiencing the resurgence of Detroit, the week focused on what a new “good life” could mean – a shift from “better, faster, more” to perhaps a new definition focused on authenticity and mindful simplicity.
2017 will be remembered as the year that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was once again redefined. Although CSR will always be grounded in business operations, the stakes have gotten a lot higher. Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for.
Although mental health has been a taboo topic in the past, over the last year, many companies have started to tackle wellness in a more holistic way. Just last month, Kaiser Permanente debuted an ad featuring a surprising spokesperson for mental health: Stephan Curry. This May, for Mental Health Awareness Month, one more unexpected voice is jumping into the wellness conversation.
With the complex challenges facing businesses today, it’s not uncommon for them to go beyond company walls in search of real-world solutions. Now, one company is opening its doors to all types of innovators from different walks of life to create a product that meets the needs of a diverse set of consumers.
Last week, sustainability leaders from around the world gathered at the Ceres Conference in San Francisco to compare notes and strategize about how to tackle some of our most pressing challenges – from water scarcity and resource depletion to the mounting impacts of climate change.
Companies with an authentic message and actions that back their beliefs have been successful at voicing their values, however companies afraid of offending consumers with a decisive stance, have faced strong criticism from consumers and media. Now, Heineken’s new issues-charged campaign tactfully addresses the current landscape without alienating individuals on either side of divisive issues – using its brand to promote acceptance across the board.
Increasingly, today’s diverse workforce is looking for employers to provide purpose in the workplace and to help them make a difference at work, at home and in the community. And, for good reason, more companies are taking notice: highly engaged employees are 38 percent more likely to have above-average productivity and 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.
Today marks the beginning of Fashion Revolution Week remembering the Rana Plaza factory collapse, which many deem the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry. The tragedy, which took place on April 24, 2013, brought the fashion industry’s supply chain issues to light and sparked a global conversation between companies, consumers and workers.