Consumer attitudes to social purpose

May 2012

“The power of Purpose is driving consumer preference and loyalty in a world where trust in corporations is low and differentiation between brands is negligible.” So states the executive summary of Edelman’s new Good Purpose 2012 survey, which canvassed the opinions of 8,000 consumers in 16 markets. Now in its fifth year, the survey explores consumer attitudes around social purpose, including their commitment to specific societal issues and their expectations of brands and corporations. The underlying idea is the realignment of the purpose of businesses; an ambitious subject to tackle, and one that’s backed up throughout the survey with some telling statistics. What is especially interesting is how Edleman’s concept of purpose ties together the full spectrum of stakeholders, “from skeptical consumers to reticent employees,” to quote the summary once more. It is also striking how social purpose is intimately related to business value and profits; the survey firmly underlines the consumer’s preference for businesses that support a good cause, as shown by the below extract which focuses on actions taken in relation to a company that supports a good cause versus one that does not (global). Another result finds that 87 per cent globally believe business should place at least equal weight on business and society. Combined, these and many more findings point to a sea change in stakeholder expectations recognise the importance of philanthropy and volunteerism (often the only approaches they may have been exposed to) but see that those alone are not the primary strategies for greatest impact. Taken from Edelman Good Purpose 2012 global consumer survey.

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