Corporate Eye

Consumers Want Transparent, Honest, Socially Responsible Brands

socially_responsible_brandsEarlier this year, I wrote a post here on the Corporate Eye Blog called 2010 – The Year of Brand Transparency, Honesty and Trust, and now, research is in that supports that prediction. Weakened economies and uncertainty have caused consumers to be less naive in terms of simply believing marketing messages, and the power of the social Web in boosting global communications to new heights of access and information sharing has created a new world where consumer expectations are less accepting and more “prove it to me” than ever before.

According to an article on Brandweek, A new study by Landor Associates, Penn Schoen Berland and Burson-Marsteller reports that, “75% of consumers believe social responsibility is important, and 55% of consumers said they would choose a product that supports a particular cause against similar products that don’t.”

The study also revealed some opportunities for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition not just with cause marketing and socially responsible programs but through education.  Many consumers still don’t understand what “corporate social responsibility” is.  At the same time, many consumers in the aforementioned study revealed they would be willing to pay more for products from a socially responsible company — as much as $10 more.  The opportunity to educate consumers about a socially responsible brand, differentiate it from the competition as such, and attach a premium price to it could be significant.

Furthermore, 50% of 18-34 years olds surveyed in this study claimed that they would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.  That leads one to believe that socially responsible brand messages could have a bigger effect on brand building and sales in specific, younger demographics.  Again, this is an opportunity to craft effective messages for specific audience segments.

Consumers have changed over the course of the past few years.  Your branding and marketing messages need to change with them.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.