Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Consumer Participation in Social Issues Soars in Rapid Growth Economies; Simmers in the U.S. and Eurozone

April 26, 2012

NEW YORK, April 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The level of social purpose activity and the weight that consumers place on it have become more reflective of socioeconomic trends in regions around the globe, according to the 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study. Consumers within Rapid Growth Economies (RGEs)–the new Purpose “Bull” Markets–such as China, Brazil, India, UAE, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are fast-tracking Purpose-driven involvement and support for Purpose-infused brands. However, the U.S. saw the only decline (seven points) in the number of consumers who say they were personally involved in supporting good causes over the last 18 months.

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The study reveals that these RGE consumers are more bullish on Purpose, in contrast to Purpose “Bear” Markets, such as the U.S. and Western Europe. While 60 percent of individuals globally said they support a good cause, personal involvement in Purpose Bull Markets is markedly higher than in Purpose Bear Markets; 78 percent versus 48 percent, respectively. Bull Market consumers are flexing their Purpose muscle through actions such as sharing, donating and volunteering:

  • Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of consumers in RGE markets donated money over the past year compared to 52 percent of Bear Market consumers;
  • 44 percent of Bull Market consumers volunteered in their local communities compared to only 23 percent of Bear Market consumers.

“Call it a reversal of Purpose fortune,” said Carol Cone, global practice chair, Business + Social Purpose, Edelman. “With the rapid growth of the middle class around the globe, millions of consumers have a newfound level of purchasing power and they are demanding that brands and corporations take the lead on issues that remain personal to them – environment, healthcare, disaster relief, clean water and poverty.”

The study found that RGE consumers are making Purpose purchases at a much more dramatic rate than their Bear Market counterparts. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) in Purpose Bull Markets are purchasing Purpose-infused products at least once a month, compared to 37 percent in Purpose Bear Markets.

RGE consumers have also grown more optimistic about their level of influence over the past five years compared to their peers in more mature markets. More than half say the responsibility of a “person like me” has increased over the past year and 63 percent say a “person like me” now has more power and influence to make a difference than compared to five years ago.

  • While the state of Purpose is becoming more clearly defined in RGEs, it has become more complex in the U.S. as consumers now feel most responsible to address society’s issues but lack the resources to support causes. Economic turmoil in the U.S. has reshaped what consumers view as many of society’s most pressing issues, with the top causes consumers care about being alleviating hunger and homelessness, improving the quality of healthcare and supporting human and civil rights. In thinking about the next five years, U.S. consumers believe they should work together with government, business and NGOs to address societal issues: 76 percent believe they should partner with institutions to create jobs
  • 70 percent believe they should partner with institutions for economic development

For the first time ever, the U.S. was the only country of the 16 markets surveyed to believe the responsibility of tackling society’s issues falls most heavily on the shoulders of “people like me” and not the government.

The Reengineering of Brand Marketing- Purpose as a Purchase Trigger Grows 26 percent Globally
Since 2008, when quality and price of a product are deemed equal, social purpose has consistently been the leading purchase trigger for consumers around the world muscling design and innovation and brand loyalty aside. More than half (53 percent) pegged social purpose as the most important factor in choosing one brand over another when quality and price are the same. Over the years, the relevance of Purpose as a purchase factor has risen 26 percent globally. Growth has been even more prominent over the last 18 months in markets such as Japan (+100 percent), China (+79 percent), Netherlands (+43 percent), India (+43 percent), and Germany (+36 percent).

“The power of Purpose is now registering in the checkout line,” said Jackie Cooper, global vice chair, Edelman Brand Properties. “As our study clearly shows, when quality and price are the same, social purpose trumps design and innovation and brand loyalty as a sales trigger. As a result, companies are building social equity into their brands, from product innovation, to employee engagement to marketing communications.”

Brands aligning themselves with causes are not only securing more consumer consideration, but are also earning their dollars and support. Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers have bought a brand at least monthly that supports a cause, representing a 47 percent increase from 2010. Over the years, consumers have taken increased action on behalf of brands with Purpose:

  • 39 percent increase in “would recommend” cause-related brands
  • 34 percent increase in “would promote” cause-related brands
  • 9 percent increase in “would switch” brands if a similar brand supported a good cause

Despite an increasing lack of trust in the institution of business, a vast majority of global consumers (86 percent) still expect it to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business’ interest. However, less than one-third of consumers in the 16 countries surveyed believe business is performing well in addressing societal issues.

“Purpose, a brand or company’s reason for being beyond profits, is now pervasive around the globe,” said Cone. “For Purpose-driven initiatives to gain their greatest impact, both business and social, they must be in line with larger socioeconomic trends and customized to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers.”

To read the executive summary of the 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study, click here.

About Edelman
Edelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with 63 offices and more than 4,200 employees worldwide, as well as affiliates in more than 30 cities. Edelman was named Advertising Age’s top-ranked PR firm of the decade in 2009 and one of its “A-List Agencies” in both 2010 and 2011; Adweek’s “2011 PR Agency of the Year;” PRWeek’s “2011 Large PR Agency of the Year;” and The Holmes Report’s “2011 Global Agency of the Year” and its 2011 North American “Large Agency of the Year.” Edelman was named one of the “Best Places to Work” by Advertising Age in 2010 and 2012 and among Glassdoor’s top five “2011 Best Places to Work.” Edelman owns specialty firms Blue (advertising), A&R Edelman (technology), First&42(nd) (management consultancy), DJE Science (medical education/publishing and science communications), and agencies Edelman Significa (Brazil), and Pegasus (China). Visit http://www.edelman.com for more information.

About the 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study
The 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® study is the firm’s fifth annual global consumer study that explores consumer attitudes around social purpose, including their commitment to specific societal issues and their expectations of brands and corporations. The survey was conducted by StrategyOne in January and February of 2012 and consisted of online interviews in 16 countries among 8,000 adults. Five-hundred respondents were surveyed in each of the following markets: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. The margin of error is +/-1.1% for the full Global sample; +/-1.4% for the Global tracking sample; and +/-4.4% for each country’s sample. For more information, visit www.purpose.edelman.com.

Michael Bush

SOURCE Edelman

Source: PR Newswire