Can Doing Good Be Good For Business?

Can Doing Good Be Good For Business?

Somewhere between traditional corporate philanthropy and the emerging shared-value ideal, brands around the globe continue to align business and social interests through cause-marketing opportunities—using social and environmental efforts to increase consumer engagement. IEG, a sponsorship consultancy, estimates that cause-marketing sponsorships reached $1.7 billion in 2012 in North America alone, and this investment will increase in 2013[1]. But what percentage of consumers will take note and reward these efforts?

Nielsen’s latest Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility of 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries examines the interaction between respondents who say they are willing to pay extra for products and services that give back to society and those that actually do so.

Because it’s unlikely that all respondents who said they will spend more on goods and services from companies that implement programs to give back actually will spend more, we look at this metric as a broader proxy. For starters, it’s unclear today how many opportunities consumers actually have to make this choice. At the moment of truth—at the store, online and elsewhere—consumers have little clarity around which companies have programs to give back and which don’t. According to a study released by the European Commission earlier this year, just 36 percent of citizens felt they were informed about what companies do to behave responsibly toward society in their country[2].

Still, 43 percent of global respondents in Nielsen’s survey agreed they spent more on products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society—just 7 percent fewer than said they’d be willing. Men were slightly more likely to have done so than women (45% compared to 41%), and—as with willingness—younger respondents were more likely than older respondents to say that they’ve done so.


Looking at different rates of claimed purchase behavior by country, we see that respondents from Asia-Pacific countries such as Indonesia (56%), Thailand (66%) and the Philippines (64%) demonstrate commitment to products and services from socially responsible companies. Interestingly, a look at the countries with a high willingness to pay more, but lower rates of actually paying more for products and services from companies that give back reveals countries that are uniquely ripe for cause marketing programs.

In Slovakia, for instance, 50 percent of respondents said they would be willing to spend more, but just 22 percent said they had actually done so (a 28-point gap). Similar spreads exist in Bulgaria (53% willing, but 31% who had), Peru (62% willing, and 42% who had) and Hong Kong (52% willing, but just 32% who had).


Other findings include:

  • Willingness to spend more on socially responsible products by demographic group.
  • Willingness to spend more on socially responsible products by country.
  • Strategies for how to engage with socially conscious consumers.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Consumers Who Care Report.


[1] IEG, “2013 Sponsorship Outlook,” January 2013

[2] European Commission, “How Companies Influence Our Society: Citizens’ View,” April 2013

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility was conducted between February 18 and March 8, 2013 and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.