Top companies sought to better understand people 25 or younger by exchanging ideas with them at the recent One Young World summit in London.

As consumers try to find out more about what’s behind brands, 170 firms, including Nike, Burberry, Burt’s Bees, PepsiCo, Nokia and Hewlett-Packard, invested $4.3 million to enable 950 young adult and teen delegates from around the world to attend the three-day event in February.

“All businesses need to ask how they can become more socially responsible and communicate this — even more post-recession,” David Jones, co-creator of the event and global chief executive officer of Havas Worldwide and Euro RSCG Worldwide, said in an interview. The summit was created by Jones and co-founder Kate Robertson, group chairman of Euro RSCG, U.K., to “build a platform for young people to influence the world’s leaders” on issues such as the environment, health and poverty, he said.

“The digital revolution has given young people unbelievable access to information, influence and power,” Jones said.

The heightened social consciousness of people 25 or younger is starting to redefine the nature of successful firms, said John Replogle, president and ceo of Burt’s Bees, which sponsored 10 delegates.

“People 25 and under operate in a global, interconnected, social network where transparency triumphs and business practices are discussed,” he said.

Replogle was among the executives and leaders at the summit, along with Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan and Sir Bob Geldof, who delivered speeches and exchanged ideas about global issues with the delegates.

Initially, Burt’s Bees will seek to develop the relationships with its summit delegates through its Facebook page and general managers in the various markets: the U.K., Canada, U.S., Japan, South Korea and Australia. The delegates are being encouraged to post videos and messages about their experiences during the summit.

“Understanding your consumers is a journey of various moments,” said Elio Leoni-Sceti, ceo of EMI Music, who served as a counselor to the delegates. “It clicks in different moments. [The summit] fits with getting closer to the consumer, as youths are our customers.”

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