Doing good is good for business

A new survey by Global Research Insite quizzed more than 15,000 online consumers in the U.S. and 16 other countries about their socially conscious business practices. When asked what factor was the most important in determining if a business is socially responsible, 47% of Americans placed the highest value on corporate community involvement, "contributing to the community" with such activities as sponsorships, grants and employee volunteer programs.

"In the high-tech era where employees are expected to work 24/7, it's significant that Americans rate giving back to the community as their top priority in recognizing socially responsible companies," said Marjorie Thompson, co-author of Brand Spirit: How Cause Related Marketing Builds Brands. "It shows that people want to feel connected to each other and that they are willing to reward businesses who tap into this sense of mutual support and belonging. Companies will need to start thinking of their community programs as core to their business and brands, and central to how they market themselves."

The survey found that 42% of all Americans are willing to pay more for products branded as organic, environmentally friendly, or fair trade. This correlates closely with a recent Simmons Market Research survey that found that 35% of all Americans would pay more for environmentally friendly products. The Global Research Insite survey found that Generation Y (18-29 year-olds) were the most willing to spend more for organic, environmentally friendly, or fair trade products, with 50% responding positively compared to 42% for the overall population.

Thompson adds: "Based on the findings, Generation Y is obviously more environmentally conscious and socially savvy, which is expected, given that many are aware of the issues surrounding globalization and trade and how this can negatively affect the environment, labor pool and local communities."