Havas Study Shows Consumers Support Brands That Advocate Change


Havas’ Global Prosumer Study, ReACT, done at the beginning of the year across 28 diverse markets, shows that more than three in four prosumers are concerned about the state of the world. While the impact of Covid-19 could not have been anticipated, even before the virus hit, consumers were concerned, and their desire for radical change was pronounced.

There are strong expectations from consumers for brands and businesses to do more and move from a passive state to one of drastic action to effect real change. The emergence of Covid-19 met a world that was already battling social justice and ecological catastrophes, with consumers calling for radical change. In different ways, and for a number of reasons, consumers were anxious about the future and as the world wrestles with Covid-19, these anxieties have become more pronounced, demanding urgent action. 

‘As the world manages the current tipping point on various social issues, much of the insights we uncovered in ReACT speak to the state of mind of people and predict further shifts in the consumer landscape. Covid-19 and the economic lockdowns along with the global Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted and exacerbated anxieties on the state of injustice in the world. People are not only demanding change, but radical change that makes a meaningful difference to the world around them, and this is key for businesses to really understand and act on,’ said Lynn Madeley, CEO of Havas Southern Africa. 

Some key findings:

  • Consumers demand a radical change: most people — including 3 in 4 prosumers — believe solving the big issues we face will require radical action. A third of the study’s youngest respondents (aged 18-34) think this requires a complete reorganisation of government and society.
  • Catastrophic predictions discourage people from acting: people need a reason to believe that their efforts matter and that a better future is within grasp. More than three quarters of respondents engage more with brands that promote a strong vision of the future. Even more people (82%) think consumers would be more motivated to act if they were shown the beauty of all we risk losing rather than reports focused on the bleak reality of eco-destruction.  
  • Consumers don’t trust brands: around 60% of prosumers don’t trust brands’ sustainability commitments and believe they are only an effort to improve their corporate image. Most people believe that companies are on the wrong side of the battle against climate change, using their economic might to persuade governments not to make meaningful advances on sustainability and reduced consumption.
  • More expectations for big brands to lead change: the majority of respondents expect businesses to play a key role in change and believe that larger companies are better equipped to bring about fundamental transformation. Prosumers are convinced that size matters and 71% think it is the larger companies that will be most effective in creating a better world.