October 15, 2012
As a speaker, June Cotte, Ph.D., knows that when audiences hear the world “science,” they often head for the exit.
“There isn’t going to be a test later,” joked Cotte at the start of her General Session this morning at the PRSA 2012 International Conference in San Francisco.
A behavioral scientist, Cotte is the George and Mary Turnbull Fellow and associate professor of marketing at the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western Ontario University.
In her presentation “When Will Consumers Pay to Be Good?” Cotte succinctly discussed her years of research on consumer behavior, specifically as it relates to green or environmentally friendly products.
“To be effectively understood, company actions need to be understood by the consumer in a way that also resonates with their own needs,” Cotte said. At the same time, the company needs to understand how consumers are different. “You need to understand the personality and demographic differences, the biases…the judgments they use to make their decisions.”
Cotte noted that peer-to-peer communication in the consumer realm is incredibly important — especially today with the continued evolution of social media.
“We always used to give word-of-mouth recommendations over the fence [in our backyards],” she said. “Except now, ‘over the fence’ is to 1 million people who are on the other side.”
Today, consumers have to be told why a product is beneficial. However, too many distractions, barriers such as a lack of time and negative opinions about a company, can impede those messages.
So what can PR professionals do to help make sure that consumers are hearing the messages from their clients and companies?
— John Elsasser