The Image GroupThe Image Group

By Adam Norman

Consumers around the world believe that companies have a responsibility to impact social change. According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, 91 percent of consumers expect companies to do more than simply make a profit for shareholders – they believe businesses should actively address social and environmental issues.

Cone Communications, a Boston-based PR and marketing agency, partnered with marketing analytics specialists Ebiquity on the study, which involved surveying 9,709 global consumers and gauging their opinions and perceptions about corporate social responsibility (CSR). Cone found consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about CSR, as well as personally engaged.

“Global consumers have officially embraced corporate social responsibility,” says the report, “not only as a universal expectation for companies but as a personal responsibility in their own lives.”

In a way, spending provides consumers with an avenue for demonstrating personal social responsibility. Among respondents, 84 percent say they prefer buying socially or environmentally responsible products and services, and they will switch brands to do so. Consumers also report a willingness to pay more – or buy less – if those actions can positively impact society.

Nine of 10 consumers are looking for more opportunities to purchase responsibly, which creates opportunities for companies to leverage their CSR efforts into a competitive advantage. But companies must give CSR more than lip service. Two-thirds of respondents say that only extraordinary CSR efforts get their attention – and earn their business.

Cone points out that companies must openly talk about their CSR progress. Unless they hear how you are addressing CSR, 52 percent of consumers assume you are not acting in socially responsible ways.
Do Customers Care If You Are Socially Responsible?