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Consumers get socially conscious

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As people around the world become more aware of their environmental impact, products and companies must evolve, writes THOMAS VAN DER LINDE, LG’s General Business Manager.

The stereotype of the spacey tree hugger is well and truly dead. Today’s eco-bunny isn’t found chained to a tree, they’re your average young consumer who chooses to engage critically with the brands they consume.

According to BBMG, more than a third of the global population are ‘aspirationals’, who believe they have a responsibility to consumer brands that are good for the environment and society. That accounts for more than 2 billion consumers around the world.

What’s interesting about these surveys is that the most socially conscious consumers are found in emerging markets. A 2014 Nielsen study found that 63% of Africans feel they should buy socially responsible brands, compared to just 42% in North America and 40% in Europe.

Among consumers in developing nations, there is a generation gap between those willing to pay more for socially conscious brands. The study found so-called Millennials were much more agreeable to sustainability efforts than those 35 and above. Meanwhile, a second Nielsen survey entitled The Global Socially Conscious Consumer identified environmental sustainability as the leading concern among under 20s.

These attitudes are only set to become more prevalent as younger generations become an even greater percentage of consumers. Pertinently for companies, these consumers are not afraid to use their voices when it comes to causes they believe in. Lip service to environmental causes is not enough when anyone with access to a smartphone can fact check information and call brands out on social media.

Engaging with these socially conscious consumers isn’t easy, especially when it’s become positively trendy for brands to crow about their green credentials. In South Africa, just about every company of a certain size has a corporate social investment (CSI) strategy in place, leading to a natural wariness from consumers. The term “greenwashing” has been coined to disparage those companies that spend more money marketing how environmentally conscious they are than on actual efforts.

According to the Target Group Index, the largest single source brand survey in South Africa, local consumers are very willing to spend more money on socially conscious brands. They advise, however, that in order to win the hearts and minds of consumers, “marketers must be sure to get their green marketing messages aligned with consumer expectations.”

An appliance that’s been marketed as green but breaks down after six months is a good example of a misalignment. Another example would be a product that’s sustainably sourced but remains unaffordable to the target market.

Get the balance right and consumer loyalty will naturally follow. Woolworths, which recently embarked on a campaign with Pharrell Williams focused on sustainability, is one of South Africa’s most valuable brands. The brand has committed itself to ethical trade and sustainable production methods since 2007.

Today’s socially conscious consumer is a connected one, so it’s no surprise that the electronics industry is leading the way in consumer-first corporate sustainability practices. Companies like LG are making great strides in bringing long-lasting, energy efficient products to market. The majority of its products carry Energy Star ratings, a label that designates savings of $150 million in electricity costs over a product’s lifetime.

Nor are these efforts limited to the products themselves. The company has an e-waste programmes active around the world that seek to recycle electronic waste like old cell phones and discarded packaging. In the face of load shedding and electricity shortages, LG’s Switch-On campaign highlights energy-saving tips and educates consumers on what certain energy ratings mean.

As consumers choose to engage with brands such as these in increasing numbers, other companies have incentives to improve their own sustainability efforts. The socially conscious consumer is one with an enormous amount of power right now, and that can only be good news.

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As selfie cameras rise, so must selfie etiquette

Selfies were once a sign of narcissism or self-obsession. Now they are the new normal, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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You can blame Oxford Dictionaries for making the “selfie” respectable. After all, being named Word of the Year, as it was in 2013, does tend to soften some of the self-consciousness in this most self-conscious of actions.

Once seen as a symbol of narcissism and self-obsession, it is now the new normal, to the extent that most smartphones are sold on the basis of the front camera. Or, as that feature is now almost universally named by manufacturers, the “selfie camera”.

I was one of the hold-outs, having a near-allergy to the selfie. I still resist, but succumb more often than I would like. The reason for continued resistance is that it remains a big leap from the word becoming respectable to the action itself shedding its narcissistic image. 

For most, it’s already happened, and for that you can blame Ellen DeGeneres. She  choreographed the most famous group selfie yet at the 2014 Oscars, when she roped a bunch of actors into a group selfie, using the then-new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Her tweet of the photo became what was then the most retweeted posting ever on Twitter, and was estimated to have been worth a million dollars in marketing value to Samsung.

Ironically, it was Samsung’s up-and-coming challenger, Huawei, that came up with a new word for this type of selfie: the “groufie”. Thanks to an 8 Megapixel front camera on the new Huawei Ascend P7 camera that year which took the highest quality selfies – and groufies – possible on a smartphone at the time.

It didn’t end there, and selfies and groufies have morphed into variations like selfscapes (selfie in a landscape), skyfies (selfies from the air, using remote controlled devices) and jerkies (selfies to make an idiot out of yourself). I invented all of those on the fly, so it’s easy to imagine a new word emerging for every type of selfie.

Continue reading about selfie improvements through the years.

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Mickey’s 90th for SA

Disney Africa announced the local launch of the Mickey the True Original campaign, joining the global festivities honouring 9 decades of Mickey Mouse, his heritage, personality and status as a pop-culture icon.

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As 18 November 2018 marks 90 years since his first appearance in Steamboat Willie in November 1928, a series of world-wide celebrations will be taking place this year and South Africa is no different.

The campaign will come to life with engaging content and events that embrace Mickey’s impact on the past, present and future. The local festivities kick off in earnest this month, leading up to Mickey’s 90th anniversary on 18 November 2018 and beyond:

  • An exclusive local design project where ten highly talented South African artists will apply their own inspiration and artistic interpretation on 6-foot Mickey Mouse statues.
  • Once revealed to the public, the statues will form part of the Mickey the True Original South African Exhibition, inspired by Mickey’s status as a ‘true original’ and his global impact on popular culture. The exhibition will travel to 3 cities and delight fans and families alike as they journey with Mickey over the years. Featuring 4 sections highlighting Mickey’s innovation, his evolution, influence on fashion and also pop culture, the exhibition is in collaboration with Samsung and Edgars, and will visit:

o   Sandton City, Centre Court: 28 September – 14 October

o   Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Expo Explore Court: 19 October – 11 November

o   Canal Walk Shopping Centre. Centre Court: 16 November – 26 November

  • Samsung continues their collaboration with Disney as they honour Mickey’s 90th anniversary nationally at all Samsung and Edgars Stores. Entitled Unlocking the Imagination, fans are encouraged to visit these stores, take a selfie with a giant Mickey plush toy using their Samsung Galaxy Note9 and stand a chance to win not only a giant Mickey plush, but also an international family trip. Visit www.Samsung.com for more information
  • Mickey’s 90th Spectacular, a two-hour prime-time special, will be screened on M-Net 101 later this year. The elegant affair will feature star-studded musical performances, moving tributes and never-before-seen short films. Superstars from music, film and television will join the birthday fun for the internationally beloved character.
  • In addition, look out for special programming on Mickey’s birthday (18 November) across Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303), Disney XD (DStv, Channel 304) and Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309).
  • In retailers, Edgars will be stocking a complete collection of trendy fashion, accessories and footwear for the whole family, inspired entirely by Mickey Mouse.
  • Mickey will be the central theme of an in-store campaign nationwide this November and December, with brand new products, apparel, toys, as well as titles from Disney Publishing Worldwide, including books, arts & crafts and comics
  • Discovery Vitality and Disney are celebrating healthy, happy families this festive season by offering helpful and exciting tips and tricks on how to eat nutritious, yet delicious, foods, all inspired by Mickey. There’s also a trip to Disneyland Paris up for grabs. Log on to www.discovery.co.za/vitality for information.
  • And much more – check the press for updates

“Binding generations together more than any other animated character, Mickey Mouse is the “True Original” who reminds people of all ages of the benefits of laughter, optimism and hope,” says Christine Service, Senior Vice President and Country Manager of The Walt Disney Company Africa. “With his universal appeal and ability to emotionally connect with generations all over the world, no other character quite occupies a similar space in the hearts and minds of a global fan base and we are thrilled to be sharing these local festivities.”

Mickey’s birthday is celebrated in honour of the release of his first theatrical film, Steamboat Willie, on 18th November 1928, at the Colony Theatre in New York City. Since then, he has starred in more than 100 cartoons and can currently be seen on Disney Channel (DStv, Channel 303) in the Mickey Mouse cartoon series and on Disney Junior (DStv, Channel 309) in Mickey and the Roadster Racers.

South African fans are encouraged to share their Mickey Mouse moments on social media using the hashtag#Mickey90Africa.

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