CSR poll: Consumers prefer brands that support their ideals

The oversize check to help the local Little League is no longer enough. To curry customers’ favor, companies must choose sides on sometimes divisive societal issues, a recent survey has found.

Corporate social responsibility has become a necessity for organizations of all sizes.

CSR is no longer just a matter of collecting canned goods at Christmas or of employees’ volunteering at a soup kitchen or passing around a donations envelope following a natural disaster.

Not only do consumers expect the companies they patronize to have a social conscience, they’re expecting businesses to be at the vanguard in solving pressing societal problems.

For example, a just-released study from Cone Communications found that 63 percent of Americans hope that businesses—not individuals or government—will take the lead in driving social and environmental change.

That number is higher (at 71 percent) among millennials, who think businesses ought to drive change.

Although Pepsi seemed tone deaf in the way it addressed the national discourse on race, the beverage maker wasn’t far off in thinking that it should be part of the conversation. That’s because 78 percent of consumers in the Cone study said they want companies to address crucial social justice issues.

It’s a long-held belief that a strong, authentic approach to CSR can bolster a company’s bottom line. The Cone study supports that notion, finding that 87 percent of consumers will buy a product because a company has advocated for an issue that affected or concerned them. The converse is also true: Three-quarters (76 percent) of consumers said they’d refuse to patronize a company with public stands on issues that run counter to their own beliefs.

The study also found that given comparable price and quality, 89 percent of consumers will switch brands to one that supports a favored cause.

Check out Cone Communications’ full 2017 CSR study here.

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