CSR, what is the impact on consumers?

CSR is a big topic among business professionals, but do customers care about it as well? According to the findings from the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, the answer is a big yes. It’s a follow-up to the 2011 and 2013 global studies and focuses on the consumer attitudes, perceptions and behaviors around corporate social responsibility. The research had a sample of 10,000 citizens from the nine largest countries by GDP.

Customers have high demands from companies, but they understand they have an obligation to make a change, as well. While 90% of all customers expect companies to address social and environmental issues, most of them try to act responsibly as well. 84% of consumers globally says that they buy responsible products when possible.
Customers also seek more ways to engage in CSR efforts. Telling friends and family about a company’s CSR effort is the most popular way to engage (80%). 76% of the customers say they would donate to a charity supported by a company they trust, while 72% would even volunteer for a cause. They have good intentions, but their actual actions are mostly limited to shopping (63%), donation (61%) and boycotting products (53%).
CSR remains closely correlated with brand reputation. With 93% of global citizens saying they will have a more positive image of that company, 90% are more likely to trust the company and 88% to be more loyal. When customers have the choice to choose between two similarly priced products, 90% will switch to the brand with the better CSR perception.
People obviously seem to care a lot about corporate social responsibility. But there is one snag to it. When CSR efforts aren’t properly communicated, customers aren’t likely to look them up by their own. 64% of consumers say that they only pay attention to CSR efforts if a company is going above and beyond what others are doing. 52% assume that a company is not acting responsibly until they hear information stating the opposite.
It seems that it is key to clearly communicate CSR efforts to reap the commercial rewards. 86% believe that companies must be held accountable for communicating results, but 64% will ignore CSR messages if they don’t understand the terms. Traditional communication such as brief written summaries and informative product packaging remain the preferred form of CSR communication. But social media and mobile channels combined continue to gain traction.
“This study reveals a higher level of understanding, awareness and support of corporate social responsibility efforts from the world’s consumers […] Companies shouldn’t take consumers’ willingness to make sacrifices as a signal to cut corners,” says Cone EVP Alison DaSilva. “Now companies must advance CSR beyond a peripheral brand attribute to create an entirely new CSR experience.”
To learn more:
Study: 81% of Consumers Say They Will Make Personal Sacrifices to Address Social, Environmental Issues
More on the same topic:
Global CSR study report : the importance and benefits of CSR
Strong employee commitment for a successful CSR strategy
Why do corporations need to integrate their CSR activities in their business?