Rewarding Corporate Responsibility

The proof that corporate responsibility has a demonstrable return on investment continues to add up. The Wall Street Journal released new research this week confirming consumers will pay a premium for products made with high ethical standards (defined as progressive stakeholder relations and environmental practices and demonstrated respect for human rights). 

Of a random survey of 97 adult coffee drinkers (admittedly, a small sample size), those who believed the coffee was produced ethically said they would pay $9.71 per pound, $1.40 more than the control group.  Perhaps more telling, consumers who were presented with information indicating the coffee was produced using unethical standards said they would pay only $5.89 a pound.  The moral of the story?  Consumers will not only reward responsible companies for their efforts, they will punish companies whose ethical standards are subpar.  This is sound support that a company’s responsible business practices can have a noted impact on sales, but the implications don’t stop there.  Cone’s own research has consistently found that, from brand loyalty to job loyalty to investments, Americans are likely to reward or punish companies for their corporate responsibility practices in a variety of ways.