Welcome to the world of responsible business. The unequivocal takeaway from the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study, which surveyed 10,000 people in 10 countries (markets home to nearly half the world’s population), is that consumers globally believe companies have an explicit responsibility to help change the world.
Key global findings indicate:
- 81% of consumers say companies have a responsibility to address key social and environmental issues beyond their local communities;
- 93% of consumers say companies must go beyond legal compliance to operate responsibly; and,
- 94% of consumers say companies must analyze and evolve their business practices to make their impact as positive as possible.
What’s more, consumers report they are already using their own spending and loyalty to press these demands. More than three-quarters of consumers surveyed (76%) bought a product with an environmental benefit in the past 12 months, and 65 percent have purchased one tied to a cause. But companies should also beware - more than half (56%) have also boycotted a company they believe has acted irresponsibly.
Data from each country, along with insights from some of the world’s foremost thought leaders on corporate responsibility, revealed several areas of opportunity for companies that span geographic bounds. Among these are:
- Bridging stakeholders: Companies are not always viewed as a partner of choice for NGOs and consumers for a variety of reasons, so before building a cause marketing or corporate responsibility program, the first step is to initiate collaboration among key groups to build a common language, trust and understanding.
- Companies as a social partner: Although corporate and individual philanthropy and volunteerism may not be the cultural norm in some countries, consumers show a strong willingness to join corporate efforts. Companies can be a catalyst to facilitate giving and volunteering by providing the right opportunities.
- Emerging markets: To sustain their business and ensure growth, most global companies must address social and environmental challenges in emerging markets. Citizens in these markets will more readily embrace companies as a solution to these problems, recognizing the constraints of their own governments.
- MNCs forge the way: Multinational companies are bringing CR into new markets and raising the bar as local firms face increasing pressure to demonstrate their own commitments.
The bottom-line? Responsible business is an expectation regardless of social, cultural, economic, political or geographic forces. But, to achieve the greatest business and social value, a country-customized approach to CR is the way to get there. To learn about the key social and environmental issues, business approaches, preferred communications channels and other expectations of consumers around the world, please download the full 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study here.