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CONSUMER SURVEY FINDS DOING GOOD
IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS

A recent survey by GMI (Global Market Insite) that gauged the opinions of more than 15,000 online consumers in the U.S. and 16 other countries about their socially conscious business practices, found that Americans place the highest value on corporate community involvement; however chose damaging the environments as the main reason they would think that a company is socially irresponsible. The GMIPoll also found that future American consumers, between the ages of 18-29, are more likely to spend more on organic, environmentally-friendly or fair trade products than other age groups.

America is unique in its emphasis on giving back to the community; when asked what factor was the most important in determining if a business is socially responsible, contributing to the community (e.g. sponsorship, grants, employee volunteer programs) came in highest with 47 percent. On the other hand, all of the other countries surveyed (e.g. India, Canada, Australia, Germany, China and Japan) selected environmentally-friendly practices (recycling, using biodegradable products) as the top factor.

In the high-tech era where employees are expected to work 24/7, itís significant that Americans rate giving back to the community as their top priority in recognizing socially responsible companies, said Marjorie Thompson, co-author of Brand Spirit: How Cause Related Marketing Builds Brands. It shows that people want to feel connected to each other and that they are willing to reward businesses who tap into this sense of mutual support and belonging. Companies will need to start thinking of their community programs as core to their businesses and brands, and central to how they market themselves.

Not surprising, the U.S., along with other countries such as India and China, which have experienced environmental disasters caused by corporations (e.g. Love Canal, Bhobal, Exxon Valdez) or have had to deal with major polluting issues (e.g. coal plants, manufacturing), believe that damaging the environment is associated with acting socially irresponsible. Other countries, including France (60 percent), Denmark (52 percent) and Italy (45 percent) selected the use of child labor as the main factor in making them think a corporation is socially irresponsible.

Juxtaposing Americansí negative opinions on damaging the environment, the GMIPoll found that only 42 percent of all Americans are willing to spend more for products branded as organic, environmentally friendly, or fair trade, except for the Y Generation. While only 14 percent of 18-29 year olds label themselves as socially responsible consumers, half of this age group (50 percent) responded that they will spend more on these types of products (organic, environmentally friendly or fair trade) compared to their older and wealthier counterparts, with only 37 percent of 45-64 years olds saying they would spend more on green products.

Thompson adds: Based on the findings, Generation Y is obviously more environmentally conscious and socially savvy, which is expected given that many are aware of the issues surrounding globalization and trade and how this can negatively affect the environment, labor pool and the local communities.

Surprisingly, a large majority of online consumers in the less developed countries of China and India, 91 and 71 percent respectively, will pay more for socially responsible products, while almost half (47 percent) of the U.K. respondents indicated they would spend more for these types of goods.

Written by: Global Market Insite

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