Global research giant The Nielsen Company has released its “Doing Well by Doing Good” report on its annual Global Survey of Corporate and Social Responsibility. The Internet survey polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries to gauge consumer behavior towards brands that engage in some sort of social responsibility or sustainability platform.
The survey addressed a number of questions including how passionate consumers are about sustainable practices and whether or not they drive purchases; which consumer segments are most supportive of corporate sustainability and social responsibility efforts; and which issues/causes are attracting the most concern. The findings indicate that with today’s consumers, especially younger ones, care does convert to action with it comes to purchasing decisions.
Here are five key takeaways for brands to consider:
55 percent will pay extra for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact. This number is on the rise from previous years – up from 50 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2011.
Companies that included sustainability claims on packages or actively promoted sustainability actions through marketing efforts saw more improvement in year-over-year retail performance than brands without sustainability claims or marketing. Consumers are making a choice, and that choice is increasingly swaying towards brands demonstrating a social purpose. Many brands are already engaging in sustainability practices or giving back to their communities. This survey indicates the need for brands to strategically promote their sustainability practices on packaging and through marketing campaigns.
Of respondents willing to pay more for sustainable products, 63 percent said that environmental sustainability was a top concern. This number is significant in our industry of building product manufacturers, many of whom already engage in sustainable building practices or make energy-efficient products. This study points towards a future in which the mere fact that the products are sustainable will be a driver in purchasing decisions. Manufacturers need to be aware that there is a market for consumers who will choose their products because of their sustainability policies and, in fact, will be willing to pay more for them. Identifying this customer base and employing marketing strategies that will resonate with them are key.
67 percent prefer to work for socially responsible companies. To keep performing well, companies need to attract and retain top talent. Adopting a corporate policy for social responsibility or sustainability will give companies an edge over those that don’t during the recruiting process.
Age Matters. Millennials make up more than half of the respondents who are willing to pay more for sustainable products. That’s more than double the number of respondents in Generation X (age 35-49), and more than quadruple for Baby Boomers (age 50-64). These generational differences are important. If companies want to remain relevant in the future, this study indicates they need to engage in some sort of conscious capitalism program. And the previous stat about individuals preferring to work for brands with a social or environmental mission? That’s heavily made up of Millennials, too, leading us to the conclusion that if companies want to remain relevant both as a brand and a reputable employer in the future, they need to promote their corporate responsibility platform.
This study underscores to companies that developing a sustainability policy is a win-win. They can help the environment and society while continuing to remain relevant to key consumers, contribute positively to their brand’s perception and ultimately add to the bottom line.
Check out the full report here.