Consumers are more likely to reward businesses and brands that give back to the community and world through charitable donations and socially-conscious initiatives. According to research from Cone Communication and Echo Research (infographic from Zendesk, no longer available), 94% of consumers think businesses should do more than make money. Businesses and brands should give back.
Specifically, consumers think businesses have a range of resources available to them, which those businesses should use to positively impact global issues. This isn’t an isolated sentiment. Over 10,000 consumers in 10 countries were surveyed, and the consensus was clear — consumers expect businesses to give back. Businesses that do can gain loyal customers. 47% of survey respondents indicated they are more likely to be loyal to a company that supports social and environmental causes, and 53% indicated they are more likely to recommend those companies and brands to other people.
It’s important to note that while there are specific causes that consumers are passionate about and believe that companies should support in order to drive changes (see the infographic below for the details), consumers also want companies to make internal changes to positively affect social and economic causes. According to the participants in this study, consumers most want companies to:
- Change the way they operate = 34%
- Apply unique business assets = 19%
- Develop new products or services = 16%
- Raise awareness and educate = 11%
- Develop partnerships = 11%
- Make donations = 7%
- Donate employee time/expertise = 5%
Take a close look at the data above. The first step most companies and brands take to demonstrate their commitments to impacting social and economic causes is to donate money or require employees to donate money and time to charitable organizations. Are you surprised to see that the internal changes consumers most want companies to make in order to support social and economic causes don’t include making donations and donating employee time and expertise until the sixth and seventh items on this list?
Businesses should support economic and social causes for multiple reasons. Most importantly, they have the resources to make positive changes, but also because consumers want them to and will reward them with referrals and loyalty. For brands the benefits are numerous. At the most basic level, economic and social causes evoke powerful feelings in people, and tying emotions to your brand can have significant results to loyalty, advocacy, and sales. Never underestimate the power of emotional branding.
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 Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, 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+.