Customers WILL pay more to socially responsible companies

Apparently even when the CSR message is poorly delivered people will pay more for goods (and services) that are not solely about feeding greed and profit. On the contrary put something “back in.”

We know that there’s growing –and well-warranted –skepticism among consumers regarding greenwashing, but what about public perception on the flip-side? Are companies getting the recognition they deserve for genuine achievement in environmental stewardship, human rights, philanthropy, and the like?

According to the results of a study released last month, the answer to that question is, unfortunately, no.

The research-based consultancy Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, brand consulting firm Landor Associates, and strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller polled 1,001 American consumers to test their perceptions of 69 different brands, 23 of which were also ranked in the Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2009 (CRO 100).
The researchers found no correlation between performance on key metrics and consumer perceptions. For example, only 30% of consumers surveyed considered Gap, Inc. to be a socially responsible company, yet it ranked 61st on the CRO 100.

“There is a definite disconnect between companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives and the public’s perception and awareness of them,” says Scott Siff, Executive Vice President of Penn, Schoen & Berland. “Companies are not successfully delivering messages to consumers about their efforts in this area, despite the fact that many consumers say they would rather make purchases from socially responsible companies.”

Siff’s comments are backed-up by data from the survey. A full 75% of those polled indicated a willingness to pay more for products from companies they know to be socially responsible. More than half said they can pay at least 6% more on a $100 purchase to patronize such companies.

But, even so, few survey respondents could identify a responsible company. Only 13% mentioned the top-scoring company (Bristol Myers-Squibb). No company stood out as a leader in social responsibility.

Clearly, organizations need to better communicate their CSR achievements with consumers –and, based on these survey results, companies that are successful in doing are likely to be rewarded with market share.

How much more appealing to a customer then to know that, by their intellectual input and participation, they could bring genuine savings, benefits and opportunities to their business.In addition, by protecting, their business, by means of insurance products and a range of related support services, they have the ability to share in the profits they generate.

I am very interested to talk to potential investors, partners, participants and other genuinely interested parties. There may be scope to participate in shaping and executing a new business model. However, sorry to say that, for a variety of legitimate business reasons my/our preference (for Phase 1) is to work with Scottish firms unless there is a really strong case for consideration!

David G Wilson
M: 07919917150