The Global, Socially Conscious Consumer

New findings from a Nielsen survey of more than 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries around the world provide fresh insights to help marketers better understand the right audience for cause marketing activities, which programs resonate most strongly with this audience, and what marketing methods may be most effective in reaching these consumers.

Around the world, companies have invested time, talent, and treasure in social and environmental efforts, says the report. For many companies, cause marketing, the use of social and environmental efforts to build a brand and increase profits, has been a secondary if not primary motivation.

But, though cause marketing won’t work with all customer segments who simply don’t care, says the report, previous research suggests that there is a segment of socially-conscious consumers to whom cause marketers should pay attention.

The survey confirmed that the majority of consumers express a general preference for companies making a positive difference in the world. 66% of consumers around the world say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. That preference extends to other matters as well. They prefer to work for or invest in these companies. A smaller share, but still nearly half, say they are willing to pay extra for products and services from these socially conscious companies.

Consumer Reflections on Companies That Give Back to Society

 

% of Respondents

Attitude

North America

Europe

Asian Pacific

Latin America

Buy their products

64%

55%

70%

77%

Work for them

56

54

66

73

Invest in them

55

47

63

75

Source: Nielsen, Global Study of Corporate Citizenship, Q3 2011, April 2012

According to the survey, 63% of socially-conscious consumers are under the age of 40, compared to 55% of all respondents. The survey shows that younger consumers are more likely to spend extra for products and services from socially responsible companies. 51% of all respondents aged 15 to 39 are willing to pay extra for such products and services compared to 37% of all respondents over age 40.

According to the findings on cause marketing efforts, basic trust in the chosen advertising vehicle for cause marketing may be even more important than advertising at large. Consumers have grown increasingly sensitive to “greenwashing,” the idea that a brand will artificially inflate its environmental or even social investments for consumers.

When it comes to advertising and recommendations, socially conscious consumers trust recommendations from people they know, while also looking for opinions and information posted by other consumers online, slightly more so than the global online survey average. Among paid, third-party advertising channels, socially-conscious consumers most trust outdoor, TV, and print media, though they tend to be more trusting of advertising across channels.

Socially-conscious consumers are more likely than consumers overall to trust ads found on social networks and they were also more likely than total respondents (59% vs. 46%) to say they use social media when making a purchase decision.

Trust in Advertising; Socially Conscious Consumers (Trust Completely or Somewhat)

% of Respondents Trusting

Advertising Form

Socially Conscious Consumer

Global Online Average

Recommendations from people I know

95%

92%

Consumer opinions posted online

76

70

Branded websites

65

58

Editorial content such as newspaper articles

65

58

Emails I signed up for

57

47

Brand sponsorships

56

47

Billboards and other outdoor advertising

56

50

Ads on TV

55

47

Ads in magazines

55

47

Ads in newspapers

54

46

Ads on radio

 

 

Ads before movies

48

41

Ads served in search engine results

48

40

TV program product placements

47

40

Ads on social networks

46

36

Online video ads

45

36

Display Ads (Video or banner) on mobile devices 33

 

 

Online banner ads

41

33

Text (SMS) ads on mobile phones

37

29

 Source: Nielsen, Global Study of Corporate Citizenship, Q3 2011, April 2012

Not all consumers expect companies to care about social responsibility, but those that do can be segmented and understood in ways that allow brands to engage in cause marketing which appeals to the right consumers, with the right causes and through the right marketing channels, concludes the report.

The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Citizenship was conducted in August/September 2011 and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. The survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only.

For additional information, and access to the PDF file, please visit here.

 

 

 

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