Consumers Worldwide Expect, Reward Responsible Businesses
Consumers Worldwide Expect, Reward Responsible Businessesback

I knew it! But it’s nice to know that 10,000 consumers in 10 countries confirm my belief: Companies have a responsibility to promote social good and consumers will support those who do.

The happy news comes from the Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Report, which found a groundswell of support for the notion that companies address social and environmental problems. Lest that make the heart of a business owner sink at the thought of new costs, consumers were willing to switch purchases to those companies that are socially responsible — think competitive edge and higher sales.

Just as important, those consumers aren’t asking for big investments; they want businesses to change the way they operate and use their business skills to promote economic development and the quality of the environment.

Let me summarize the main points of the report, although you should read it yourself as it is chock-full of goodies. And nonprofits, take note: 78% of consumers will work for or donate to a cause that is supported by a company they trust. In other words, find a good partner and your coffers will benefit.

Expectations: The role of business in society is to change it. Only 6% of consumers believe that the role of business is simply to make money. About 94% want companies to change business practices so they have a positive impact on the world. More than 90% want companies to go beyond the minimum standards required by law. The report notes that consumers expect positive action from businesses because the business sector has resources that governments and nonprofits lack.

Issues: Economic development and the environment were the top issues that consumers expect businesses to address. In major Western countries, consumers wanted that focus to be local, not global.

Approach: Consumers want businesses to change from within, to change their business practices to improve society and the environment; to develop new products or services that do so; and to apply their business smarts to social problems. Giving money isn’t enough; they want businesses to give their expertise.

Impact: If a product is associated with a good cause, 94% of consumers are likely to switch to that brand if price and quality are equal. Just as important: 93% will boycott a company they deem socially irresponsible and more than half have done so.

Communications: Consumers expect two-way communication with businesses and they expect businesses to own up when they make a mistake. Almost 90% value honesty above perfection. They want the whole truth, not just the good stuff.

Twenty-two percent of consumers get corporate responsibility information from product packaging but 21% get it from online sources including the company’s website, mobile apps, and social media. The report found that 89% of consumers want to access information from both traditional and online channels.

Bottom line: Consumers want the world to be a better place and they will support those businesses that do so as part of their day-to-day operation.

How do you think businesses can change the world for the better?

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