Cone Releases the 2012 Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker



Sarah Cahan
Cone Communications


Consumers Demand More Than CSR “Purpose”

New Cone Communications research shows Americans more than twice as likely to buy from companies that promote CSR progress and results


BOSTON (October 23, 2012) – When it comes to corporate social responsibility (CSR), consumers want more than aspirational mission statements. According to the newly released 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker, 84 percent of Americans hold companies accountable for producing and communicating the results of CSR commitments by going beyond the mission to robustly communicate progress against well-defined purpose.

“This shift in stakeholder expectations carries significant implications for companies engaged in CSR,” says Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Jonathan Yohannan. “Purpose is no longer enough, and successful campaigns must demonstrate return for business, brand and society. ‘Proving purpose’ is the new mantra for effective CSR.”

Cone Communications, a public relations and marketing agency recognized as a pioneer in cause marketing and CSR, is establishing a new approach to CSR called Corporate Social ReturnSM. This philosophy centers on the conviction that CSR must deliver measureable business, brand and social impacts that yield benefits for vested stakeholders.

Consumers Reward Results, Not Aspirations

Companies that proactively share the details and results of their CSR efforts will be rewarded with increased consumer trust and purchasing. With significant consumer purchasing power on the line, ineffective CSR communications can be a liability. Cone Communications’ research reveals:

  • 86 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its CSR results
  • 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not
  • 40 percent say they will not purchase a company’s products or services if CSR results are not communicated

“Companies need to build customized output and outcome measurement components and identify projected stakeholder return at the outset of campaign development, and then track progress along the critical CSR pillars of business, brand and society,” adds Yohannan. “With the stakes so high, measurement can’t be an afterthought or add-on.” 

Companies Must Communicate CSR Return

Although today’s savvy consumers understand that companies must realize bottom-line benefits from CSR efforts, they need more guidance and understanding about how their participation makes a difference. The 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker shows:

  • 84 percent recognize that for a company to make societal impact, it must also realize a business return, such as increased revenue or reduced costs
  • 63 percent say they don’t know where to find information about a company’s CSR efforts and results
  • 55 percent don’t understand the impact they are having when buying a product from a company that says it is socially responsible

“Stakeholders play more powerful roles than ever in a brand’s overall success or failure, and they must be consistently engaged in a company’s CSR efforts and results from the outset,” says Cone Communications’ Executive Vice President Craig Bida. “They need to feel a benefit. This mutual return will become the new table stakes for differentiating CSR efforts.”


Cone Communications has launched a new suite of proprietary products and tools to help companies more effectively measure and deliver business and societal return.

For more information about Cone Communications’ services, or for a copy of the 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker, please visit


About the Research:

The 2012 Cone Communications Corporate Social Return Trend Tracker presents the findings of an online survey conducted August 6-8, 2012 by ORC International among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,019 adults comprising 510 men and 509 women 18 years of age and older. The margin of error associated with a sample of this size is ± 3%. Some numbers may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

About Cone Communications:

Cone Communications ( is a public relations and marketing agency known for igniting brands with high-impact strategies and programs based in deep insights, unique subject matter expertise and innovation. Focusing on key areas such as consumer product media relations, social media, corporate social responsibility, cause-related marketing, nonprofit marketing, corporate communications and crisis prevention/management – the agency is positioned to help clients achieve both business and societal outcomes. Cone Communications is a part of Diversified Agency Services, a division of Omnicom Group Inc.

About Diversified Agency Services: 

Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (, manages Omnicom’s holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.

About Omnicom Group Inc.:

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) ( is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.