The Great Recession has definitely made the consumer far more value conscious in their purchasing decisions. Today value means far more than the price, it means what you get for the price you pay. Often the less expensive items don’t offer the greatest value, whether due to taste, quality, durability, etc.
But there is another aspect of value that is increasingly driving purchasing decisions, what is known as socially and environmentally conscious values. This type of purchasing looks at the values of the company you are doing business with and how is it supporting societal and environmental causes. Sometimes referred to as cause marketing, research shows that this facet of the purchasing decision has not seen a decline during the recession. The 2010 Cone Cause Evolution Study found that 41% of adults said they purchased a product in the past year because it was associated with a social or environmental cause, a two-fold increase since 1993. A full 83% said they want more of the products, services and businesses they use to benefit causes.
The recession has not deterred American’s social sentiment, or their expectations that companies should benefit society. 81% said companies should financially support causes at the same level or higher during the economic downturn.
Other findings from the survey include:
- 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about
- 80% are likely to switch brands, similar in price and quality, to one that supports a cause
- 61% say they would be willing to try a new brand or an unfamiliar one based on its cause marketing
Moms lead the way as the most amenable to cause marketing. 92% want to buy a product supporting a cause (vs. 81% average) and they are more likely to switch brands (93% vs. 80% average). Moms purchased more cause-related products and services in the past year than any other demographic (61% vs. 41% average).
Millennials (18-24 years old) come in close behind moms as they also shop with an eye towards the greater good. A company’s support of social or environmental issues is also likely to influence this group’s decisions outside the store, including where to work (87% vs. 69% average) and where to invest (79% vs. 59% average).
The leading causes consumers want companies to support include:
- Economic development – 77%
- Health and disease – 77%
- Hunger – 76%
- Education – 75%
- Access to clean water – 74%
- Disaster relief – 73%
- Environmental – 73%
Americans say that a company should support an issue that is important in the communities where it does business (91%) as well as one that is aligned with its business practices (91%).
Success in business today is about far more than the goods, services and experiences that are offered. It’s also about who the company is, its values and what it does to make the world a better place. Consumers today are looking for both value and values.