Consumers Demanding Greater Corporate Responsibility

November 6th, 2011
Steven Howard

Here's some research Qantas CEO Alan Joyce probably wished he had read before he decided to shut down the airline's entire fleet two weekends ago.

According to the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study, consumers worldwide are demanding a higher level of corporate social responsibility, especially from those with which they engage with or purchase from.

Over 10,000 consumers in 10 major countries were surveyed, with 94% saying companies must analyze and evolve their business practices to make their impact as positive as possible.  

93% also agreed that companies must go beyond their legal compliance to operate responsibly. One suspects that the grounding of the Qantas fleet, which inconvenienced over 100,000 passengers (plus their families, friends and colleagues) was not seen as a either a positive or responsible action by consumers globally.

With 93% also saying they would boycott a company for irresponsibility (and over half said they already have done so), the long-lasting detrimental impact on brand loyalty and bottom line profitability from not being in sync with consumer demands for heightened corporate responsibility are great.

Additionally, 81% of the surveyed consumers feel brands and organizations have a responsibility to address key social and environmental issues beyond their local communities. With global trust in governments at an all time low, consumers are now insisting that the role of business in society must become more than simply making higher amounts of profit. 

In fact, it is obvious from a careful reading of this study that consumers globally believe companies have an explicit responsibility to help change the world. Consumers believe it is important for companies to address a full range of social and environmental issues. In fact, only 19% felt that companies should have a limited (13%) or no role (6%) in the communities they serve.

As companies finalize their 2012 marketing plans, they would do well to read and understand the full implications of this important study, which was conducted across 10 countries representing approximately half the world's population.

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