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Corporate Social Responsibility: Nice Guys Finish First

Consumers seek out socially or environmentally responsible brands and products

July 22, 2015

Today’s consumers expect companies to focus on more than the bottom line—addressing social and environmental issues is also important. According to March 2015 polling by Cone and Ebiquity, 91% of internet users worldwide expected companies to do more than make a profit.

Actions Taken by Internet Users Worldwide in Response to a Company's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Efforts, March 2015 (% of respondents)

Such demand can actually affect business results, too. Among respondents, 84% said they tried to purchase products and services that were socially or environmentally responsible whenever possible, but nine in 10 said they wanted to see more of such items. And they were willing to ditch a company if they found a product or service that was socially or environmentally responsible elsewhere, as nine in 10 were likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause when the two had similar pricing and quality. Fully 84% of respondents considered a company’s social and environmental commitments before deciding what to buy or where to shop, and 82% did so when deciding which products to recommend to people.

When asked about actions they had taken in response to a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts in the past 12 months, 63% had purchased a product with a social and/or environmental benefit, and more than six in 10 had made a donation. On the downside, more than half had boycotted a company after learning it had behaved irresponsibly. And word-of-mouth played a role too, as nearly half had told family and friends about a company’s CSR efforts.

Most Effective Source for Obtaining Information About Social and Environmental Programs/Products According to Internet Users Worldwide, 2011, 2013 & 2015 (% of respondents)

Companies must mix channels when promoting CSR efforts, as responses were spread when internet users were asked about the most effective communication channels for information about social and environmental programs and products. Respondents were most likely to want to see this info on the product or its label. Media, advertising, social media and websites were all cited by similar percentages.

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