Companies are Guilty Until Proven Innocent, According to Global Consumers

Even as consumer understanding of company CSR messages continues to grow, breaking through is harder than ever.

This is according to our newly launched 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study. We're proud to share the nine-country consumer survey of attitudes, perceptions and behaviors around CSR. The research reveals expectations for companies remain high, with 91 percent of global consumers believing companies do more than just make a profit, but work to address social and environmental issues.

However, even with strong consumer demands, some consumers still view companies as guilty until proven innocent, as over half (52%) of global consumers assume a company is not acting responsibly until they hear information otherwise. The mandate to communicate CSR efforts in clear and simple terms has never been greater, and although consumer understanding of CSR messages is one the rise, nearly two-thirds (64%) will ignore a company's CSR messages if they find them confusing.

Other key findings include:

RESPONSIBLE SHOPPING: 90% of global consumers would switch brands to one supporting a cause, and 84% report seeking out responsible products whenever possible

PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY: Consumers are willing to compromise quality (57%), pay more (71%) or reduce how much they buy (81%) if it will have a positive impact on social and environmental issues

INCREASING CSR UNDERSTANDING: Consumer confusion over company CSR messages has dropped, from 71% in 2011 to 65% in 2015

TRANSFORMING CSR REPORTS: 25% of consumers have read a company CSR report in the past 12 months, but consumers prefer to see CSR content in the form of brief written summaries (43%), interactive websites (34%) and videos (31%)

Despite distinctiveness on a country-by-country basis, the research confirms global consumers remain steadfast as open-minded partners for collaboration to drive forward social and environmental progress. More than ever before, companies must clearly communicate CSR progress and impact to break through and drive consumer engagement.

To learn more about the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study join our webinar presentation on Wednesday, June 24, at 1 pm ET. To register, click here.

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