Consumers have often supported companies that champion social causes, but post-Sept. 11, they are making more of a point to do so. Eight in 10 Americans (81 percent) say they are likely to switch brands to support a cause when price and quality are equal, compared with just 54 percent who said the same back in March 2001, according to a recent study.
The â€œ2001 Cone/Roper Corporate Citizenship Studyâ€? was released in November by Cone Inc., a Boston-based strategy firm that links companies and social issues, and conducted by New York City-based research firm RoperASW. The first phase of the survey consisted of face-to-face interviews with a national cross section of 1,994 adults from March 10-24, 2001. The second phase was conducted via telephone with a national cross section of 1,030 adults from October 26-28, 2001.
Fully 79 percent of Americans today say that companies have a responsibility to support causes, up from 65 percent in March 2001. And more than ever, employees are looking to their employers to set a good example: 76 percent of Americans believe a company's commitment to causes is important when they decide where to work, up from 48 percent who agreed pre-Sept. 11.
â€œSophisticated companies will move beyond merely writing checks and doing short-term, cause-related promotions to creating deeper social commitments,â€? says Carol Cone, CEO of Cone. â€œThese activities should be long term, credible and integrated into companies' overall business strategy, and they should involve consumers, employees and communities.â€?
Not surprisingly, the types of issues Americans most want companies to support have shifted: the No. 1 cause now is the national tragedy and its victims. Support for medical research, which rose significantly in early 2000, increased even more after the terrorist attacks. And while crime prevention has remained among the top three issues Americans most want companies to support since 1993, it dropped to No. 8 after Sept. 11. This makes sense as national and global concerns have apparently overshadowed local ones. Pre-Sept. 11, 45 percent of Americans said they felt it was most important for businesses to help improve quality of life locally, whereas just 30 percent felt that way afterward. Conversely, pre-Sept. 11, 16 percent placed significant importance on businesses improving quality of life globally, compared with 27 percent who did so post-Sept. 11.
For more information, contact Anne Chan at [email protected] or (617) 272-8403.
SHOPPING FOR A CAUSE
Post-Sept. 11, almost 8 in 10 Americans (77 percent) say that a company's commitment to causes is an important consideration when making decisions about what to buy or where to shop, compared with just over half (52 percent) who said the same prior to Sept. 11.
|PERCENT WHO AGREE|
|PRE-SEPT. 11 (MARCH 2001)||POST-SEPT. 11 (OCTOBER 2001)|
|I believe that companies have a responsibility to support causes.||65%||79%|
|During an economic downturn and period of tighter consumer spending, it's important for companies to continue supporting causes.||71%||88%|
|I am likely to switch brands, when price and quality are equal, to support a cause.||54%||81%|
|A company's commitment to causes is important when I decide which businesses I want to see in my community.||58%||80%|
|A company's commitment to causes is important when I decide what to buy or where to shop.||52%||77%|
|A company's commitment to causes is important when I decide which stocks/mutual funds to invest in.||40%||63%|
|A company's commitment to causes is important when I decide where to work.||48%||76%|
|Companies should tell me how they are supporting causes.||73%||88%|