Nielsen Study: Consumers reward companies’ social commitment

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Nielsen study: The willingness of consumers to spend their money with companies who are socially committed has risen.

Social commitment is increasingly valued by consumers. Such is the conclusion reached by the Nielsen study “Consumers Who Care”. From a global perspective, consumers in India are more willing to support companies who demonstrate social commitment by buying their products than their European counterparts. All in all, the willingness of consumers to spend their money with companies who are socially committed has risen by five percent since the 2011 poll.

Worldwide, the proportion is close to a half: Men in particular say that they will definitely pay more. The figure rose from 47% to 53%. Women are just behind with a four percent increase to 47%. It is among 40 to 44-year-olds that this willingness has increased most in comparison to 2011 (from 38% to 50%). In contrast, more than half (56%) of younger consumers between the ages of 25 and 29 indicated that they would be prepared to pay more.

There are huge differences geographically, too. The study comes to the conclusion that consumers in India and the Philippines are more inclined to pay more than, for example, those in Russia, Belgium or Estonia. Overall it is the Europeans, above all, who are less willing to spend more money with companies who show commitment to social values. At 35% they fall way below the two thirds of those polled in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. In India itself, as many as three-quarters of those polled asserted their willingness. One explanation for this could be, it is suggested, that the expectations of CSR (corporate social responsibility) in India are higher and that, on the other hand, there are signs of a growing cynicism in Europe.

There is, however, a huge gulf between willingness and actual action, according to the study. In Slovakia, only 22% more has been spent in the last six months, although half of the respondents indicated their willingness to do so. This nevertheless shows that there are good opportunities here for companies to win customers by putting CSR policies in place. Most importantly, traditional corporate philanthropy such as donations to not-for-profit organisations continues to win popularity, it emerges. In 43 of 58 countries where data was collected, the proportion of consumers interested in companies who are socially committed has risen significantly.

The Nielsen study rests on the results of an online questionnaire. 29,000 people from the Asian-Pacific region, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America were polled during a period which ran from 18 February to 8 March 2013. The complete study can be consulted online.

Jana Kern

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