July 12, 2007 15:30 ET

World's Most Engaged Consumer Citizens Embrace Global Trade

Movers And Shakers Of Public Opinion Shows Acute Risk To Companies’ Reputations And Operations

Attention: Business/Financial Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor WASHINGTON/DC--(Marketwire - July 12, 2007) - The world's most engaged citizens say that while they personally embrace global trade and corporate investment in their homeland, they want their governments to more aggressively crack down on the activities and influence of national and multinational corporations, a new survey reports today.

The poll, covering 20 of the world's leading and burgeoning powerhouse economies, indicates the environment of public opinion puts global and national corporations at risk for potential government interventions and tighter regulatory incursions because its most engaged citizens will back such moves.

Encompassing 20,000 interviews, the survey shows a full majority (71%) of this key audience-specifically defined because of their marked involvement and societal impact within their country-indicate that foreign companies have too much influence over the economy in their country, and even more (75%) believe their government should be more aggressive in regulating corporations.

"What makes these findings vital for corporations to heed is that the population surveyed represents the movers and shakers of public opinion in these countries. For international business players seeking "permission" to operate, these are the opinion gate-keepers, and the reputation of a company, a sector, or even a nation can predispose them to a particular position of either granting permission or tightening it" said Darrell Bricker, Ph.D., and Co-Director, Global Public Affairs for Ipsos.

"These active, Internet savvy social networking citizen-consumers are the most engaged and involved people you will find in these societies-they are the public opinion vanguard that shapes the environment within which other citizen-consumers participate and are influenced. As such, we call them the Intelligaged?, public opinion shapers that must be anticipated and measured on the dimensions of risk associated to an organization's reputation and its operations," he said.

But, despite their current views on having their governments step up the controls on companies within their countries, these engaged individuals are actually global trade and corporate investor supporters, not the expected stereotype.

In fact, among other findings, 91% believe that expanding global trade is a "good" thing, another 81% advocate that investment by global companies in their country is essential for their growth and expansion, and two-thirds (63%) agree that overall, globalization is a good thing for the world.

"These people are not talking out of both sides of their mouth," Dr. Bricker concludes, "Most are real or potential kindred allies for organizations at the macro level, but they're deeply concerned right now with what's happening in their own backyards and want their governments to use their powers to rein some things in."

The survey audience was identified by way of their engagement in various pursuits that suggest an Intelligaged global population-100% are online, 68% voted in the last election they were eligible to do so, half have instigated political, economic and social discussions with others, and 37% have signed a petition within the past year. On the consumer behavior side, half (47%) chose to buy a product or service because of a company's ethical, social or environmental reputation. Alternately, one third (33%) advised others against using a specific company or service for the same reason.

The exhaustive bi-annual survey assesses the public opinion and reputation risk environment and covers areas and topics including Social & Political, Corporate & Business, Industrial Sector or Segment, Corporate Issues and Ranking (Rank & Radar), Benchmarking for 60+ global brands, Activist & Activism Profiles, Media & Internet Profiles and Corporate & Competitor Brand profiles.

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