Edelman: Consumers Will Pay Up to Support Socially Conscious Marketers

Study Also Finds Businesses Should Do More to Promote Their Do-Good Actions

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Consumers around the world are primed to put their money where their mouths are to support socially responsible causes, according to new research conducted by the public-relations firm Edelman.

The survey of 5,600 people in nine countries found that not only are worldwide citizens increasingly interested in issues such as protecting the environment, reducing poverty and providing educational opportunities, but they're willing to pay a premium to companies that share their concerns. In particular, seven out of 10 consumers reported they would pay more to a business that supports worthwhile causes, with 55% saying they would even help promote such a brand.

The findings provide ample opportunities for marketers around the world, said one of the architects of the survey.

'Mutual Social Responsibility'
"The results of our study tell us that social purpose as a marketing imperative has global consumer appeal and can help brands build deeper relationships," Mitch Markson, the president of Edelman's Global Consumer Brands practice, said in a statement. He believes the findings suggest a new trend in on the horizon. "We see a new phenomenon emerging called 'Mutual Social Responsibility,' where consumers and the brands they interact with every day take a mutual interest in and a mutual responsibility for being good citizens."

Companies currently involved with cause marketing, however, may need to do a better job communicating their actions to the public. Despite the influx of "green"-themed advertising of late, only 39% of consumers said they were aware of any brands that actively support good causes. And while two-thirds of respondents feel that too much money is spent on advertising and marketing, a healthy majority (57%) don't have a problem with brands that support good causes and make money at the same time.

When choosing between two brands of similar price and quality, consumers said a brand's social purpose was more important to the purchasing decision than design or brand loyalty.

Among the good causes, protecting the environment continues to be the top concern in the polled countries, which included the U.S., China, Japan, Brazil, Canada, U.K., Germany, Italy and India. But reducing poverty, providing equal opportunity to education and enabling everyone to live a healthy life garnered nearly as much support. Significant differences between the countries exist, though. For example, 63% of respondents in Brazil say they are more involved in good causes than they were two years ago, a total far greater than those in Japan (23%), Germany (28%) or China (32%).
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