Consumers expect the brands they support to be socially responsible

Nov 21, 2019

According to a new survey released by Markstein and Certus Insights, 70% of consumers want to know what their favourite brands are doing to address social and environmental issues and 46% pay close attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when they buying a product.

While consumers are paying attention, they are also skeptical of corporate motivations. Almost three-quarters agree that when big corporations donate to charities and help with community projects, they are doing it to make themselves look good rather than to help people in need. Consumers are not always willing to take companies at their word when they say they are socially responsible, with only 9% saying they believe corporate claims about social responsibility “all the time” and another 67% believing them “some of the time”.

“When it comes to social responsibility, consumers are looking for brands to show them – not just tell them – what they’re doing,” said Sheila McLean, president of Markstein, mid-Atlantic. “Navigating these expectations is not easy. Brands need a much deeper understanding of their customers’ values as they chart their own social responsibility course. They need to demonstrate real impact over time.”

The survey found generational differences, with millennials more likely to say the companies they do business with should support environmental initiatives, even if it means raising prices (44% of millennials versus 28% of generation x and 35% of baby boomers).

“Millennials continue to be more focused on social and environmental issues than younger and older consumers,” McLean said. “Millennial values will become more and more important as their purchasing power grows. By next year, millennials will represent 30% of all retail sales – an estimated $1.4 trillion a year.”

At Kells, environmental sustainability isn’t just a trend, but something we take seriously as it is the way the mill has worked for over 6 generations of the Mosse family. Things like working with local farmers growing heritage cereals or working with local grain merchants to buy Irish wheat for our stoneground wholemeal flours is not only more sustainable and ethical, but it is how we’ve always operated, and it makes good business sense too.