94% of Consumers Think Businesses Should Give Back

December 14, 2012

business of giving back 94% of Consumers Think Businesses Should Give BackConsumers 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, provided in the infographic below from Zendesk, 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.

For all of the details, take a look at the infographic below. You can click the image to view it at full-size at the source.

GIVINGBACK 94% of Consumers Think Businesses Should Give Back
Image originally posted on Zengage, The Zendesk Blog

More on Mandatory CSR in the EU

November 21, 2012

European Union Flag More on Mandatory CSR in the EUBack in January I wrote about how I believed mandatory CSR reporting was going to come into the EU’s regulatory frame work under the auspices of the Single Market Act (SMA), which is on schedule for adoption by the end of this year.

In brief, the EU has said it by 2014 it will provide a “legislative proposal on the transparency of the social and environmental information provided by businesses” which apply to large companies, such as those with over 1,000 employees.  Read New CSR Regulation Coming Your Way for more details.

Now, it may have skipped your notice but this month saw the 20th anniversary of the EU’s Single Market (the Maastricht Treaty, when the EEC became the EC).  To celebrate it the EU launched a debate entitled “Europe, Wake Up!  We will only return to growth and prosperity if we complete the the Single Market”, including this video and this Google hangout.

In the best tradition of Hollywood slasher/romcom/fantasy flicks (delete as appropriate) it also launched SMA The Sequel, more properly known as the Single Market Act II.

This addresses several key areas for which the European Commission considers to be priorities for rapid adoption to try and stimulate the EU out of the current economic crisis.  Proposals in these areas will be put forward in 2012-14.

Read more

Three golden rules of employee engagement

April 3, 2012

Gallup Statistic on Employee Engagement Three golden rules of employee engagement

One of my great interests is how western capitalism (as focused through broad based consumerism) impacts those cultures and economies which don’t necessarily share such values.

This inevitably ends up as being a discussion about human and indigenous rights.  How the Bushmen are pushed off their mineral rich land, for instance, or how Apple’s i- revolution appears to have been underpinned by regular suicides.

I firmly believe that if western consumers knew of such tragedies they would think again about buying the goods they take for granted.  Who wants to know that their mobile phone has perpetuated civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or that the cheap fashion they just bought may have just condemned another child to starvation?

There are many NGOs out there who seek to remedy this deplorable situation, and one of those who have my profound respect is Impactt.

Impactt are currently celebrating 15 years since their foundation.  As part of this they’ve released a report, entitled “Finding the Sweet Spot: Smarter Ethical Trade That Delivers More For All”, and will be hosting their first ever conference on the same subject in May. Read more

Putting it all together | Renewing CSR 3/3

September 21, 2011

Viva la Revolution Putting it all together | Renewing CSR 3/3This is the final instalment in this brief series about renewing CSR.

The first part looked at the beautification of business.  Currently all business is seen as being rather utilitarian.  Their purpose, especially in a capitalist consumer-led economy, is simply to get money out of the hands of consumers and into the pockets of shareholders.

It’s not that I agree or disagree with that .. it’s just that all the alternatives to it are similarly utilitarian.  So you have philanthropic or resource-based measurements all of which are about usefulness and efficiency, if in slightly different directions.

Why not, I asked, aim to have businesses which were beautiful as well, businesses which we valued for some kind of intrinsic reason as well as because they produced or consumed something at a certain rate? Read more

When Conversation Becomes a Concern

March 11, 2011

concern When Conversation Becomes a ConcernHow much responsibility should you take for your website visitors?

Clearly, when they visit your site, you’re responsible for their experience. You want them to take certain actions as a result of their visit, so the website needs to make this easy and desirable for them, whatever that action is.

But increasingly, as websites – even corporate websites – become more social, and as companies become more involved in social media activity across the web, then visitors may well reveal something of themselves in ‘conversation’. And what they say may be something that causes you concern…

I’m not talking about data protection, because obviously you take good care of that as part of your processes.

I don’t mean corporate social responsibility in the classic sense, either, which refers to how the company takes responsibility for its impact on the context in which it works (marketplace, employees, community, environment).

No, here I mean information revealed to you as part of the social interaction that your company has taken on, shared with your employees by individuals.

Often we get comments from people who believe that we represent the brands we discuss. If we have a post about a make of car, for instance, or a food-manufacturer, people respond as though we were that company. They pass on details of their complaint and ask what we’re going to do about it.

That’s easy enough: I find the customer service contact details for that company and pass them on – and I delete any personal contact information they’ve shared publicly. This is a simple misunderstanding of the nature of our site, and perhaps of the public nature of blog comments.

Then, this week we had an unusual email, asking how to find a former lover who works for a company we mentioned. At first, I assumed it was spam, though I couldn’t see where the gain for the spammer was. But when I investigated, the email came from an apparently genuine email address from a professional company.

I’ve done nothing. How can I help, after all? And it isn’t a serious problem (I hope). Or perhaps I would make it worse…

But it made me wonder about companies who are very active in the social space, having conversations with individuals.

Banks, for instance, very clearly and very frequently, warn people in their Twitter stream not to reveal any of their personal banking details.

What about companies in other markets? What if, for instance, you are using social marketing to promote tampons to young girls, or baby milk to first-time mothers – or any product to potentially vulnerable people – and a visitor to some part of your web estate reveals something about their circumstances that causes you concern for their health or wellbeing, or that of their family? Given your privacy policy, is it permissible to try to get them help?

Google puts up a phone number for the Samaritans if you search for various keywords likely to indicate that you are suicidal; some social media sites have panic buttons for people who believe they are threatened in some way. What should corporate community managers do if they are worried about a member of their community?

I don’t have an answer, other than to ask whether companies have a duty of care that extends beyond the use of their products, and whether companies should have a policy for how to handle such an issue – if at all.

What do you think?

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