Americans Want More Evidence that CSR Produces Results
A new study carried out by Cone Communications reveals an interesting fact about Americans in relation to their shopping habits: they want to see more social engagement from their brands. Although there seems to be a market saturation of causes, a phenomenon experts call "ribbonization," consumers are open to even more engagement. However, they would also like to see more evidence that all the advertised social engagement produces real results.
This is good news from the point of view of social change, but offers a challenge to companies that need to find ways to make their commitments ring truer to the 54 percent of Americans who bought a product with a cause over the last 12 months, an increase of 170 percent since 1993. Besides, 91 percent of Americans want even more of the products and services they use to support a cause while 88 percent want to hear how companies are supporting social and environmental issues.
“U.S. consumers’ hearts are in the right place, but they are clamoring for proof of progress. They need verification that the efforts of companies, as well as their own personal participation in cause marketing, are affecting quantifiable social impact,” says Craig Bida, executive vice president of Social Impact at Cone Communications. “The onus is on companies to go beyond mission statements to provide personally relevant and tangible evidence that collectively, businesses and consumers are moving the needle.”
This lack of clear communication on the part of companies may explain the gap between Americans’ intended and reported behaviors when it comes to engaging in social and environmental issues, the report says.
Hispanics have emerged as one of the most likely to partner with corporations in efforts to solve social and environmental issues and they are more likely to buy products and services associated with causes (94% vs. 89% general population)
Although traditional media channels are important to engage cause champions and stakeholders in general, social media opens a new communication frontier for quicker access to information and consumer engagement. 51 percent of Americans reported using social media to engage with companies around social and environmental issues while 27 percent is doing so to champion corporate efforts and initiatives. Social media is also used to criticize companies and issues (20% of respondents).
“The consumer mandate for companies to do more than stand for something and show proof of purpose is absolute,” Bida says. “Americans are also resoundingly clear in their desire to be engaged and help make a tangible difference. Companies must engage new audiences and utilize new channels to deliver meaningful social impact.”
Image credit: Cone Communications