Study: Recession didn't slow consumers' appetite for cause-fueled products

NEW YORK: Edelman's third annual Goodpurpose study found 61% of consumers worldwide have purchased a brand that supports a good cause even if it wasn't the cheapest brand.

NEW YORK: Edelman's third annual Goodpurpose study found 61% of consumers worldwide have purchased a brand that supports a good cause even if it wasn't the cheapest brand.

Last year's study asked consumers if during the recession they would buy from brands that support a good cause even if it is not the cheapest brand. Fifty-five percent had affirmed they would.

“It is exciting to see that the social purpose movement is here to stay, because there were doubters about its longevity as we went into this recession,” said Caroline Dettman, MD, US consumer marketing, Edelman. “What is really validating is that despite the recession, social purpose is becoming more important.”

The survey also revealed that 57% of people said a company or brand earned its business because it had been doing its part to support good causes (with consumers from China and India indexing the highest). Two out of three (67%) consumers said they would also switch brands if another brand of similar quality supported a good cause (with consumers from Brazil and Italy leading the way, at 83% and 74%, respectively). Eighty-three percent of people said they would also change their consumption habits if it would help make the world a better place.

“Social progress, in many ways, is the new status symbol, if you will. And as millennials make their first major purchases, you are only going to see those numbers rise,” Dettman told PRWeek. “We have shifted from this notion of instant gratification to instant justification. When people are making decisions, they are really justifying in their mind the products and companies that they associate with.”

For instance, the findings found that 67% of people would rather drive a hybrid car than a luxury one (33%), with consumers from Japan and France preferring hybrids the most, at 89% and 84%, respectively.

In terms of brand communications, the study also found an almost 10 percentage point increase from last year—to 71%—in the number of people who believe companies spend too much on advertising and marketing and should put more money into good causes. And 64% of people said they would recommend a brand that supports a good cause, up from 52% in 2008 (among US consumers, the increase is even more dramatic—up to 63% this year, from 47% in 2008.)

Dettman said those numbers suggest “there is an opportunity for brands to reach people. But [supporting good causes] can't just be about a marketing campaign, but has to start with what the company is all about. I don't think we are proponents of saying this is for everyone, but marketers need to stay on top of what consumers want and demand.”

The Edelman goodpurpose Consumer Study surveyed 6,000 people in 10 countries. US consumers typically trended 2%-3% higher than the global averages, said Dettman.

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