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Global consumers increasingly willing to pay extra for socially-responsible goods: new study

A new study has found that 50% of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programmes to give back to society. This compares to 45% in 2011.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Global consumers increasingly willing to pay extra for socially-responsible goods: new study

A new study has found that 50% of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that have implemented programmes to give back to society. This compares to 45% in 2011.

The research by global insights firm Nielsen shows that in the last two years the willingness to spend more with socially-responsible companies has increased in 43 of the 58 countries measured.

In the UK, just 32% of respondents said they would be willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that “give back”. While this was up from 27% two years ago, it is still well below the global average of 50% and the European average of 36%.

This contrasts with many Asian countries where, according to the survey, more than two-thirds of respondents in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia – and three-quarters of respondents in India – said they would pay more for goods and services from socially-responsible companies.

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

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility surveyed more than 29,000 internet respondents in 58 countries. The percentage of consumers now willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that give back, compared to two years ago, increased among both males and females and across all age groups.

Respondents under 30 were most likely to say they would spend more. Among consumers aged 40-44, 50% agreed they would pay more, up from 38% two years ago – the biggest percentage point increase of all surveyed demographic groups.

Covey said: “While cause-marketing programmes seem to resonate most strongly among younger respondents, the rapid change in sentiment among middle-aged consumers expands the cause opportunity for brands. Today, brands can confidently focus ‘purpose messaging’ on both younger and older consumers.”

Nielsen’s findings reveal that 43% of respondents claimed to have actually spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programmes to give back to society – just 7% fewer than those who said they would be willing to pay now or in the future. Consumers in Asia-Pacific were the most likely to say they had spent more on products and services from socially-responsible companies (Thailand, 66%; the Philippines, 64%; Indonesia, 56%).

Several markets indicated a high willingness to pay more for products and services from companies that give back, but experienced lower rates of those that actually did pay more. This potentially indicates, according to Covey, “markets that are uniquely ripe for cause-marketing programmes.” In Slovakia 50% respondents said they would be willing to spend more, but just 22% had actually done so. Similar spreads existed in Bulgaria, Peru, and Hong Kong.

Covey added: “Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact – they do – but about which programmes, by how much, and then how do you appeal to them. 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.”

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