Survey highlights new type of opinion former

A mass survey of global opinion formers suggests that major institutions, corporations and even governments will have to radically rethink their global comms policies over the next decade.

Ipsos Mori polled a new force of ‘socially and politically engaged consumer citizens’ and found an emerging hostility towards large corporations.

Some 71 per cent of the 20,000 opinion formers surveyed indicate foreign companies have too much influence over their economies. Equally, 75 per cent think their government should be more aggressive in regulating corporations.

Ipsos Mori reputation centre head Stewart Lewis said the survey indicated that globalising firms need to communicate more effectively with citizens if they want to ensure global favour.

‘The movers and shakers we’ve identified instigate discussion, and encourage people to buy brands or boycott companies,’ said Lewis. ‘Their opinions will influence the wider population, and that has huge ramifications for the PR industry.

The survey also highlights major attitude shifts between nations. Britain and India consider campaign groups effectual, whereas in Russia and the US the reverse is true. Equally, religious leaders are considered influential in the US, but India, the UK and Russia disagree.

Stewart called the opinion formers a ‘new breed’ of citizens. Half have instigated political, social and economic discussions, and 37 per cent will have signed a petition in the past year.

All are online; half are under 35; half have university-level education. Stewart said they translate their concerns into their behaviour as consumers. Almost half (47 per cent) have chosen to buy a product or service on the ­basis of the company’s ethical, social or environmental reputation.

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