Consumers Drawn to Do-Gooder Brands
By George Anderson
Maybe there is something to all this conscious capitalism stuff. A new study
by Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller finds that
consumers are drawn to brands they perceive as being more socially responsible.
According to the survey, 77 percent of consumers believe corporate social
responsibility (CSR) is important. The top two actions companies could take
to demonstrate social responsibility, according to respondents, are to give
back to the local community (20 percent) and engage in self-regulation and
accountability (19 percent).
“Social responsibility remains a differentiator for purchases. Though the
recession is causing consumers to be even more price-sensitive than usual, many
are still willing to put their pennies where their principles are,” said
Scott Siff, executive vice president of Penn Schoen Berland, in a press release. “And
when price is comparable, the choice is no contest – 55 percent are more likely
to choose a product that supports a certain cause when choosing between otherwise
While consumers are often more likely to support brands with a cause, most
are not actively seeking out those companies that fit the CSR description.
Only 11 percent were aware of hearing CSR messages from any company over the
The percentage of respondents who reported reading about a company’s
social agenda while on a website was just 13 percent. Seventy-five percent
of those, however, said they were more likely to purchase products from the
company as a result.
“While many consumers may not be precise in how they define terms like ‘corporate
social responsibility,’ they have a clear sense of how they expect companies
to behave. They expect companies to offer high-quality products at good prices
and to explain how they treat their employees well, give back to their communities,
and respect the environment,” said Eric Biel, managing director for corporate
responsibility at Burson-Marsteller. “Those companies that can clearly
articulate how they advance these values to consumers can achieve real benefits
for their brands and overall reputation.”
Of the industries tested in the survey, consumer goods manufacturers and retailers
are perceived as performing best. Financial services, healthcare and the media
were on the bottom of the list.
Discussion Questions: To what do you attribute
the high marks that consumers give retailers and consumer brands for corporate
social responsibility? Does consolidation within the retailing industry make
it easier or harder for companies to demonstrate a commitment to local communities
and attributes such as self-regulation and accountability?
continue to prioritize social responsibility across sectors, despite recession
– Landor Associates
Branding Survey 2010 – Penn Schoen Berland/slideshare