QUEBEC, Oct. 9, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The main challenge of communication for cooperatives is to convince consumers that growth and competitiveness are both matched within the cooperative model and its inherent values. Moreover, even if consumers know the cooperative movement, they are less exposed to the main advantages offered by the cooperative organizations than they used to be.
These are the two main findings from the international study on perceptions towards cooperatives held by the Chair in Public Relations and Marketing Communication (CRPCM), UQAM, with the firm of marketing research IPSOS. Results of this study have been today released on the occasion of the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives.
This study is the first global one on that subject ever made. It presents the results of ten focus-groups held in May 2012 in five countries (Canada, United Kingdom, France, Japan and Argentina), in which more than 200 persons have been consulted, representing both members and non-members of coops.
Even though consumers know the existence of the cooperatives, the study demonstrates that they do not see clearly the reasons why they should do business with those kind of organizations: consumers are less exposed to the main advantages offered by the cooperatives than they used to be. Moreover, participants pair frequently cooperatives with agriculture sector and rural localities, considering these as the most appropriated for the cooperative movement.
This study also shows that consumers think that cooperatives organizations, doing services for communities, are rarely technologically advanced. They tend to consider that advantages offered are immaterial (mutual help and community support) and less interesting in the current competitive context. Though they do daily business with that type of organizations (including large and medium-size companies), most of the participants have a traditional vision of cooperatives.
« Their systems are not so modern and are not so well equiped as the ones of other enterprises » (member, Manchester)
« The young ignore all of cooperatives. They don't know why they should do business with them and promote them » (member, Manchester)
« The advantages of cooperatives are praiseworthy, but what concretive actions are traduced ? Are they really changing something ? » (non-member, Québec City)
« Private companies can investigate in Research and Development, that is not the case for cooperative, due to their limited budget. » (non-member, Tokyo)
Ignorance and misreading have to be faced, advantages and realities of cooperatives have to be highlighted: that is the main double challenge of communication for the cooperative movement. Cooperative organizations have to show their competitive advantages and to prove that growth and profits can be compatible with the spirit and assets of the cooperative model.
Public opinion tends to consider that it is difficult for an organization to fight for democracy, community involvement and division of profits and to become, at the same time, extremely rich and multinational. Consumers need to be given evidences of that possiblity. Spirit and values of cooperatives have to be demonstrated to them. Cooperatives organizations have to prove that they are relevant in an urban context and that they can make profits while respecting their first assignments. This is the main paradox that cooperative have to resolve today if they want to continue defending the main principles that form their identities.
« Contrary to capitalists firms, cooperatives don't have strong marketing strategies » (member, Buenos Aires)
« If there are cut prices and if cooperatives do not try to make profit, where does money go? They hide us so many things. » (non-member, Tokyo)
« To meet success, a cooperative has to know and to consider the needs of its members. It is impossible in huge cities: there are too many people » (member, Buenos Aires)
« At first, cooperatives helped people to evolve. Nowadays, they have become ordinary firms » (non-member, Paris)
« A clearly promotion of cooperative's advantages has to be done. Consumers have to understand why they should do business with cooperatives rather than with other enterprises » (non-member, Paris)
« Instead of looking for profit, cooperatives aim to improve life quality for all their members » (member, Tokyo)
About the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives
More than 2,500 decision-makers and influential figures from the international cooperative and mutualist community will attend the 2012 International Summit of Cooperatives in Québec City and Lévis, Canada, from October 8th to 11th, 2012. Under the theme "The Amazing Power of Cooperatives," the Summit aims to offer solutions that will promote the development and performance of cooperatives and mutuals so that they are better prepared to meet the economic and financial challenges they face. Visit: www.2012intlsummit.coop
About the Chair
Founded in 2002, the Chair of Public Relations and Marketing Communication of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) serves to build knowledge, train students and foster public debates on all issues related to the communications profession and its role in society. It conducts research on issues related to public relations and marketing communications conditions and practices and the development of the communications field.Visit: http://www.crpcm.uqam.ca
Founded in 1975, Ipsos is a global independent market research company ranking third worldwide among research firms. Ipsos is committed to working with clients to identify the right solutions to their specific challenges. It lives and works in the largest markets and do business anywhere they're called on. It knows brands, how to develop them and how to build them. It assesses market potential and interprets market trends. It helps their clients building long-term relationships with their customers and employees, tests advertising and studies audience responses to various media by measuring public opinion around the globe.Visit http://ipsos.ca
SOURCE: 2012 INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT OF COOPERATIVES
For further information:
UQAM - Chair in Public Relations and Marketing Communication
514 987-3000, extension 1226
Chair in Public Relations and Marketing Communication (UQAM)