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50% of Global Consumers Willing to Pay More for Socially Responsible Products

Percentage of respondents who say they spent more on products or services from socially responsible companies in the past six months. | Image credit: Nielsen

Fifty percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, according to a new study from Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries. The percentage of consumers willing to pay more increased among both males and females and across all age groups, with respondents under age 30 most likely to say they would spend more for goods and services from companies that give back. Among consumers ages 40-44, 50 percent agree they would pay more, up from 38 percent two years ago.

“While cause-marketing programs seem to resonate most strongly among younger respondents, the rapid change in sentiment among middle-aged consumers expands the cause opportunity for brands,” said Nic Covey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Nielsen. “Today, brands can confidently focus purpose messaging on both younger and older consumers.”

According to Nielsen’s survey, more than two-thirds of respondents in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia — and three-quarters of respondents in India — say they would pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies, whereas European respondents are least likely to pay extra (36 percent).

“In countries where skepticism toward corporate social responsibility runs high, cause-marketers face an uphill battle,” said Covey. “In these markets, especially, social impact programs must be incontestably authentic to a company’s business objectives, vision and values.”

Nielsen found that 43 percent of global respondents claim to have actually spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society (just seven percent fewer than those who say they would simply be willing to pay). Consumers in Asia-Pacific are most likely to say they had spent more on products and services from socially responsible companies.

Several markets indicated a high willingness to pay more for products and services from companies that give back, but lower rates of experience in actually paying more  potentially indicating, according to Covey, “markets that are uniquely ripe for cause-marketing programs.”

In Slovakia, while 50 percent of respondents said they would be willing to spend more, just 22 percent said they had actually done so. Similar spreads existed in Bulgaria (53% willing, but 31% had), Peru (62% willing, 42% had), and Hong Kong (52% willing, 32% had).

“Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact, but which ones, how much and how to appeal to them,” said Covey. “The answer isn’t necessarily a traditional cause-marketing campaign — general responsibility, sustainable innovation and purpose messaging might also engage these consumers. No matter the approach, savvy brands are figuring out how to hit this nerve.”

The study supports the results of a survey conducted late last year by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, which found that consumers are rethinking consumption with sustainability in mind. According to the Regeneration Consumer Study, two-thirds of consumers in six countries said that “as a society, we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations” (66%), and that they felt “a sense of responsibility to purchase products that are good for the environment and society” (65%). The findings were based on an online survey of 6,224 consumers across Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted in September and October 2012.


Mike Hower is a senior writer at Sustainable Brands. He is a strategic communicator and content creator focused on crafting and communicating compelling narratives that help advance the goals of forward-thinking organizations. He is particularly interested in cleantech, energy,… [Read more about Mike Hower]


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