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Shoppers Willing to Pay More to Socially Responsible Companies


Nearly half of shoppers worldwide are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting socially responsible businesses, a new study shows.

Nielsen’s Global Corporate Citizenship Survey found that 46 percent of global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society.

Younger consumers tend to be more socially conscious, the research shows. Just over half of those consumers between 15 and 39 years old said they were willing to pay extra for such items, compared with 37 percent of those over 40.

Nic Covey, vice president of Nielsen’s global corporate social responsibility program Nielsen Cares, said it’s clear that corporate social responsibility efforts resonate with a specific group of consumers.

"Marketers need to know who those consumers are in order to maximize the social and business return of their cause marketing efforts," Covey said. "This understanding allows brands to engage in social impact efforts that appeal to the right consumers with the right causes and through the right channels."

[The Most Ethical Companies in the World]

Shoppers outside of the U.S. are leading the social responsibility push. The study revealed a larger percentage of consumers in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are willing to pay extra for products and services from socially responsible companies than their North American and European peers.

The highest concentration of socially conscious consumers is in the Philippines; nearly 70 percent of those surveyed were willing to pay extra. The Netherlands came in last among the countries surveyed, with only 21 percent of its surveyed residents saying they were willing to spend more.

Environmental sustainability, improvements to science, technology, engineering and math education and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger topped the list of causes important to socially conscious consumers.

"Knowing what causes are most important to the socially conscious consumer may help brands prioritize their social investments," said Covey. "The next step is to understand precisely what causes are important to a brand’s individual customers."

Socially responsible brands would be wise to use social media to promote their efforts. The research shows socially conscious consumers are more likely than others to use social media to help make purchasing decisions.

"In order for cause marketing efforts to affect sales, customers must first be aware of a company’s efforts," said Covey. "Nielsen’s information indicates that social media is a critical tool for effective cause marketing."

The research was based on surveys of 28,000 Internet users in 56 countries.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.