Just how important is social responsibility? And to whom?

A new survey finds that more than 90 percent of consumers would prefer the products they buy to be environmentally friendly or support a cause. Checking the list of who’s naughty or nice is another story.

Cone Communications and Echo Research’s Global CR Opportunity Study surveyed 10,000 adults in 10 countries to find that 81 percent of respondents believed companies have a responsibility to take on social and environmental issues.

Beyond that, 94 percent said they would buy products that have environmental benefits; 76 percent have already done so in the past year. Likewise, 93 percent said they’d buy products associated with a cause. Which causes? The top three were economic development, the environment, and human rights.

“Welcome to a new wired world of empowered consumers,” Mike Lawrence, executive vice president and chief reputation officer of Cone Communications, said in a news release. “They have access to research and networking tools once reserved for major journalists. In this world, the only way for companies to build reputation and manage risk is through corporate responsibility, engagement, and transparency.”

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