Citizen consumers demand corporate social responsibility; Will punish businesses who don't deliver

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by John Converse Townsend, Ashoka Changemakers

Last week, we highlighted how the new era of conscious consumerism is cementing a new trend of coporate accountability.

Today, that irresistable force of public opinion can be heard loud and clear. Social media continues to drive social purpose.

The 2010 Edelman goodpurpose® study study shows that eighty-seven percent of Americans believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society's interests as on those of business. Eighty percent feel that corporations are in a uniquely powerful position to make positive impact on good causes.

Carol Cone, Edelman managing director and proclaimed “mother of cause marketing,” had this to say:

“Cause related-marketing, as we know it, is dead. Purpose must now be engrained into the core of a company or brand’s proposition. It is no longer enough to slap a ribbon on a product. It must be authentic, long-term and participatory. Americans are seeking deeper involvement in social issues and expect brands and companies to provide various means of engagement. We call this the rise of the ‘citizen consumer’.”

Take notice, corporate America. Or be left scrambling for crumbs. Your consumers, the lifeblood of your business, are asking you to tackle social issues. We have increasing expectations of both brands and corporations, and demand greater commitments to social good.

Ignore us at your own peril.


Global Study Highlights:

The Rise of Global Citizenship

  • 86% of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society's interests as on business' interests.
  • Global issues are local concerns.
    • Global citizens unite to support local communities affected by crisis.

Emerging Markets

  • More than 7 in 10 consumers in the emerging markets would take action to support social purpose brands.
  • 8 in 10 consumers in India, China, Mexico, and Brazil expect brands to donate a portion of their profits to support a good cause.
    • But 64% believe that it is no longer enough for corporations to give money; they must intergrate social causes into their everyday business.

Purpose is now the fifth "P" of marketing 

  • Social purpose continues to rank as the number one deciding factor for global consumers above dsign, innovation and brand loyalty.
  • More people buy, recommend, and share support of companies, products, and survices with a social purpose.
  • Consumers are also willing to punish products and services without good causes behind them.

Consumer Actionism

  • 71% believe that brands and consumers could do more to support good causes by working together.
  • 63% want brands to make it easier for them to make a positive difference.
  • 61% have a better opinion of corporations that integrate good causes into business regardless of why they do so.

"Green is green"

  • 71% of global consumers believe projects that protect and sustain the environment can help grow the economy.
  • 72% expect corporations to take actions to preserve and sustain the environment.
  • 73% agree government and business need to work together more closely to ensure the environment is protected.


Photo courtesy of AndyWilson Flickr