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Survey Sheds Light on Consumer Willingness to Support Socially Responsible Businesses

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If you are looking for data to support your implementation of socially responsible business practices and justification to use those practices in your marketing efforts, I highly recommend taking a look at the results of a survey just released by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

According to The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, 50 percent of global consumers surveyed are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, an increase of five points (45 percent) from 2011. Nielsen surveyed 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 to 44, 50 percent agreed 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.”

In 2011 in the United States, 36 percent said they would be willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. This year: 44 percent. In Canada in 2011: 33 percent. This year: 38 percent. The country with the highest percentage of survey respondents willing to pay more: India, 75 percent. The country with the lowest percentage: Estonia, 27 percent.

Many Already Support Those Giving Back

Nielsen’s information reveals 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 7 percent fewer than those who say they would simply be willing to pay). In other words, the majority of consumers concerned about social responsibility actually practice what they say they would do.

According to Nielsen, the share of consumers interested in companies that have implemented programs to give back to society is growing. Willingness to spend more on products and services from companies that have given back increased in 43 out of the 58 countries Nielsen measured. Across demographic groups, too, social-consciousness is a growing factor in the purchase process.

“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.”

Because Nielsen’s survey was online, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. Of course just about everyone staying at your properties today is Internet-savvy so the survey as a whole is very valid. The results are worthy of using to support your marketing decisions in the months ahead.

Your thoughts? I can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com, or by phone at (216) 848-1406.

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