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Consumers, Employees Want Socially Conscious Companies

More than two-thirds of Americans say they consider a company’s business practices when deciding what to buy, while American workers in increasing numbers say they want their employers to support a social cause or issue, according to the 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Survey, Marketing Charts reports.

Business practices are now an additional purchasing influence for approximately one-third of American shoppers; another third consider both social issues and business practices when deciding what to buy; and an overwhelming majority of Americans (85%) say they would switch to another company’s products or services if a problem with business practices were uncovered, according to the study.

Some findings from the survey:

  • Long-term support of social issues is a major brand differentiator for consumers:
    • Americans’ expectations of companies are at an all time high: 83 percent say companies have a responsibility to help support causes
    • 92 percent acknowledge they have a more positive image of a company that supports a cause they care about.
    • 87 percent are likely to switch from one brand to another (price and quality being about equal) if the other brand is associated with a good cause – an increase of more than 31 percent (from 66 percent) since 1993.
  • Americans also consider a company’s commitment to social issues when deciding the following:
    • Which companies they want to see doing business in their communities, 86 percent (vs. 58 percent in 2001)
    • Where to work, 77 percent (vs. 48 percent in 2001)
    • Which stocks or mutual funds to invest in, 66 percent (vs. 40 percent in 2001)
  • However, slightly less than a third (30 percent) have told a family member or friend about a product or company after hearing about a company’s commitment to social issues – a decline of 30 percent (vs. 43 percent) since 2004.
  • Meaningful commitment to causes is highly important to employees:
    • American employees’ expectations of companies have increased dramatically: 72 percent wish their employers would do more to support a cause or social issue – up 38 percent (vs. 52 percent) since Cone’s last survey in 2004.
    • Employees familiar with their companies’ cause programs indicate the following:
      • They are proud of their companies’ values, 88 percent
      • They feel a strong sense of loyalty to their companies, 89 percent
      • It is important for their companies to provide them with opportunities to become involved in causes, 93 percent
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