The study “Communities and Citizenship: Redesigned for a New World” found US consumers expect businesses to take on duties that were once the tasks of government. This is partly an issue of perceived competence, said the study, which found the majority of Americans surveyed (58 percent of Democrats and 69 percent of Republicans) think that, in general, businesses are better run than governments.
As a result, Americans expect the business community to do more than just be ethical and minimize its impact on the environment, said James Lou, co-chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide North America. Adhering to business as usual now appears to carry even greater risk, as corporate responsibility and social purpose are increasingly demanded by a consuming public, the study said.
Nearly half of the total US sample (49 percent) expect corporations to play an increasingly vital role in addressing the world’s major problems.
The global study, which was conducted online among 10,219 adults in 31 countries, found a sharp contrast between Americans and the rest of world on several topics. For example, 36 percent of American respondents agreed that a person who recycles regularly is a better citizen than someone who votes in every election but doesn’t make an effort to reduce their waste. Conversely, 56 percent of the global sample agreed with that statement, according to the survey.
A two-year-old study by Havas found a link between perception of sustainability and value of a brand. The “Brand Sustainable Futures” analysis found one-third of brands are considered meaningful to consumers. It also revealed that while sustainability is a key issue for consumers worldwide, few brands live up to increasing expectations.