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Consumers worldwide willing to pay more for ethical goods

September 2013

The number of consumers willing to pay more for goods and services from ethical companies is on the rise globally, according to a new survey by market research organisation Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility surveyed more than 29,000 internet respondents in 58 countries. The percentage of consumers willing to pay more increased among both males and females and across all age groups, with respondents under age 30 most likely to say they would spend more for goods and services from companies that give back. Among consumers ages 40-44, 50% agree they would pay more, up from 38% two years ago.

“While cause-marketing programs seem to resonate most strongly among younger respondents, the rapid change in sentiment among middle-aged consumers expands the cause opportunity for brands,” said Nic Covey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Nielsen. “Today, brands can confidently focus purpose messaging on both younger and older consumers.”

According to Nielsen’s survey, more than two-thirds of respondents in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia – and three-quarters of respondents in India – say they would pay more for goods and services from socially responsible companies, whereas European respondents are least likely to pay extra (36%).

“In countries where skepticism toward corporate social responsibility runs high, cause-marketers face an uphill battle,” said Covey. “In these markets, especially, social impact programs must be incontestably authentic to a company’s business objectives, vision and values.”

Nielsen’s information reveals that 43% of global respondents claim to have actually spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society (just 7% fewer than those who say they would simply be willing to pay). Consumers in Asia-Pacific are most likely to say they had spent more on products and services from socially responsible companies.

Several markets indicated a high willingness to pay more for products and services from companies that give back, but lower rates of experience in actually paying more – potentially indicating, according to Covey, “markets that are uniquely ripe for cause-marketing programs.” In Slovakia, for instance, 50% of respondents say they would be willing to spend more, but just 22% say they had actually done so. Similar spreads existed in Bulgaria (53% willing, but 31% who had), Peru (62% willing, and 42% who had), and Hong Kong (52% willing but 32% who had).

“Today, the question is not whether consumers care about social impact, but which ones, how much and how to appeal to them,” said Covey. “The answer isn’t necessarily a traditional cause-marketing campaign – general responsibility, sustainable innovation and purpose messaging might also engage these consumers.”




Nielsen | UK & NI Ireland | Consumer attitudes

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