How To Engage With Socially Conscious Consumers


Consumers around the world are interested in companies, such as for example Qatar Airways, that have implemented programs to give back to society, and the numbers are growing. And that interest is translating into a willingness to spend more on products and services from companies that give back to society. From 2011 to 2013, willingness to spend more increased in 43 out of 58 countries measured in Nielsen’s latest Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility. Across demographic groups, social-consciousness is also a growing factor in the purchase process.

“Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact, but which ones, how much and how to appeal to them,” said Nic Covey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Nielsen. “The answer isn’t necessarily a traditional cause-marketing campaign—general responsibility, sustainable innovation and purpose messaging might also engage these consumers. No matter the approach, savvy brands are figuring out how to hit this nerve.”

For companies interested in getting started, first compare your brand’s consumer segments and markets against the rates of social-consciousness shown in the chart below. Are your customers more or less likely to care? Next, determine whether traditional modes of cause-marketing or “transactional philanthropy” can and should be authentically executed by your brand.

Alternatively or in addition, are there messages of core purpose and shared value about the brand that you could more deliberately communicate to consumers? When effectively conveyed, a powerful purpose demonstrating shared value ought to be more effective and sustainable than a stand-alone cause effort any day, but this approach will not work for every brand and category.

Find ways to appeal to socially conscious consumers and your brand is bound to reap rewards and feel good about it along the way.

Other findings of the report include:

  • Willingness to spend more on socially responsible products by demographic group.
  • Willingness to spend more on socially responsible products by country.
  • A gap between willingness to spend more on socially-responsible products and self-reporting purchasing habits.


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