Consumers Would Partner with Brands for Social Change, Environment

November 16, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | Europe & Middle East | Promotions, Coupons & Co-op

Some 85% of consumers around the world are willing to change the brands they buy or their consumption habits to make tomorrow’s world a better place, and over half (55%) would help a brand “promote” a product if a good cause were behind it, according to a nine-country survey of consumers.

Also, 88% of consumers said it is their duty to contribute to a better society and environment. Among all respondents, “helping others and contributing to the community” was cited as the second-most important source of personal contentment, after “spending time with family and friends.”

The study was released by Edelman in concert with its launch of goodpurpose, a consultancy dedicated to helping brands explore putting social action closer to the center of their brand proposition.

“We see a new phenomenon emerging called ‘Mutual Social Responsibility,’ where consumers and the brands they interact with every day take a mutual interest in and a mutual responsibility for being good citizens,” said Mitch Markson, president of Edelman’s Global Consumer Brands practice and founder of goodpurpose.

He added: “Worldwide, only 39% of consumers are aware of any brands that actively support good causes through their products or services. With 56% of consumers more likely to recommend a brand that supports a good cause than one that does not, it’s clear that if brands align themselves with a good purpose that consumers care about, they will strike a meaningful chord.”


The following are among the highlights of the study findings:

Consumers care about social action

  • In eight of nine countries surveyed, more than 50% (and up to 70%) of consumers say they are more involved in social causes than they were two years ago.
  • 56% of consumers are involved in supporting a good cause. On average, consumers are involved, either directly or through a member of their families, in more than two social or environmental causes.


  • Areas of greatest concern among consumers include “protecting the environment” (92%); “enabling everyone to live a healthy life” (90%); “reducing poverty” (89%); “equal opportunity to education” (89%); “fighting HIV/AIDS” (83%); “building understanding/respect for other cultures” (82%); “helping to raise people’s self-esteem” (77%); and “supporting the creative arts” (69%).

Consumers prefer brands that help make a difference

  • 57% of consumers are comfortable with the idea that brands can support good causes and make money at the same time.
  • 78% like to buy brands that make a donation to worthy causes.
  • When selecting a brand, 52% indicate that quality is the most important factor, followed by price (29%).
  • When choosing between two brands of same quality and price, social purpose is what would most affect consumers’ decision (41%), ahead of design and innovation (32%) and the loyalty to the brand (26%).

Consumers are ready to engage with brands in “Mutual Social Responsibility”

  • 70% of consumers say they would be prepared to pay more for a brand that supports a good cause they believe in
  • More than seven in 10 (73%) would be prepared to pay more for environmentally friendly products.

Brands have an opportunity to reach consumers through social purpose

  • Worldwide, only 39% of consumers are aware of any brands that actively support good causes through their products or services.
  • Brands need to help consumers find easy solutions for getting more involved, as time (for 52% of consumers) and money (41%) are considered the main barriers.

Word of mouth is the most credible source of information about brands that support good causes.

61% of consumers say “a person like myself” is the most credible source of seeking information about brands that support a good cause.

Interest in social purpose and action across developed and developing countries varies in unexpected ways

  • Led by Brazil at 63%, the number of consumers in developing countries like India (42%) and China (32%) who are more involved in good causes today than they were two years ago is comparable to those in developed countries (US, 40%; Italy, 38%; Canada, 36%;  the UK, 33%).
  • In traditionally Catholic countries like Italy or Brazil, the Dalai Lama inspired more consumers to good causes than the Pope, whereas in Japan, with its Buddhist heritage, the Pope was more inspiring for good causes than the Dalai Lama.
  • When consumers talked about reasons why they were not more involved with good causes, developed countries such as United States (59%), Germany (58%) and United Kingdom (48%) said there was not enough money, whereas in less wealthy countries such as Brazil (79%), Italy (64%) and China (61%), consumers said that lack of time more than money was a barrier.

About the study: For the goodpurpose Consumer Study, StrategyOne conducted 5,609 interviews across nine countries September – October 2007. The study was an online survey of consumers, nationally representative of each of the country populations. For India and China survey was conducted as face to face and CATI respectively. Sample sizes per country: US = 1,004, China = 1,000, UK = 582, Germany = 510, Brazil =505, Italy = 501, Japan = 503, India = 500, Canada = 505.

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