Put the consumer first this time

Mike Longhurst and Jem Keen
Planet McCann and KSBR Brand Futures

With the recent conclusion of the Rio +20 world sustainability summit, it is fair to assume we are going to see a new build-up of corporate activity leading through to marketing and communications on a sustainability platform.

Whether they are judged successful or not, sustainability summits raise the profile of the issue and this one seems to have been a good showcase for corporate actions and leadership.

It is useful, then, to look at what was achieved in the last era of promotion, before the effects of recession set in, and try to map a way forward for brands setting out to regain a perception of leadership in their category.

To begin with, what was not achieved by most brands was perception of leadership in their categories. They might have been arbitrarily placed there by consumers in research studies, but all the evidence suggests this was more by default than design.