Most Prefer Socially Conscious Cos., But Many Balk at Paying Them More

April 3, 2012

nielsen-attitudes-to-socially-responsible-companies-april2012.jpgThe majority of consumers from different regions across the world prefer to buy from, work for, and invest in companies that give back to society, but the proportions willing to pay extra for products and services from these companies are drastically lower, finds Nielsen in a March 2011 report. Indeed, consumers in North America are almost twice as likely to say they prefer to buy products from these companies than to say they would pay extra for their products and services (64% vs. 35%). This pattern extends to consumers in Latin America (77% vs. 49%), the Middle East and Africa (75% vs. 53%), Asia Pacific (70% vs. 55%), and Europe (55% vs. 32%).

This trend was also found in a Cone Communications report released in March 2012: results from that survey indicated that the leading reason consumers are discouraged from purchasing environmental products is because they believe the products cost more than traditional products.

Environmental Causes Most Popular

Meanwhile, the Nielsen report indicates that among socially-conscious consumers (those willing to pay more for socially-responsible products/services), two-thirds think that companies should support environmental sustainability. In fact, this is the leading cause among men, women, and all age demographics.

The next-most popular cause is improvement to science, technology, engineering, and math training and education (56%), followed by eradicating extreme poverty and hunger (53%), and providing relief following natural disasters (52%).

Socially-Conscious Consumers More Trusting of Ads

Socially-conscious consumers are less skeptical of advertising in all forms than the global online average. They are most likely to trust recommendations from people they know (95% vs. the 92% average), followed by consumer opinions posted online (76% vs. 70%)) and branded websites (65% vs. 58%). Among paid, third-party channels, these consumers most trust outdoor (56%) and TV advertising (55%), again more so than the general average (50% and 47%, respectively).

Social media also appears to play a larger-than average role in cause marketing: socially-conscious consumers are 27.8% more likely than the global online average to trust ads found on social networks (46% vs. 36%), and 28.3% more likely to say they use social media when making a purchase decision (59% vs. 46%).

Other Findings:

  • 63% of socially-conscious consumers are under the age of 40, compared to 55% of the global online average.
  • Younger consumers (aged 15-39) are 38% more likely than their more mature counterparts (over age 40) to pay extra for products and services from socially-responsibly companies (51% vs. 37%).
  • The top cause among North American socially-conscious consumers is supporting small business and entrepreneurship.

About the Data: The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Citizenship was conducted in August and September 2011 and polled more than 28,000 consumers in 56 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

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