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One in three Australians willing to pay more for socially responsible companies: Survey

Friday, 30 March 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

A global survey has shed new light on the social enterprise sector, revealing almost a third of Australians are willing to pay more for products and services that give back to society.

 

The Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Citizenship polled more than 28,000 online consumers in countries throughout the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America.

 

According to the survey, 31% of Australian consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that give back to society.

 

When asked which causes companies should support, 62% of Australian respondents identified environmental sustainability.

 

Nic Covey, vice president of Nielsen’s social responsibility program Nielsen Cares, says social responsibility efforts clearly resonate with a specific group of people.

 

“Marketers need to know who those consumers are in order to maximise the social and business return of their cause marketing efforts,” Covey says.

 

“This understanding allows brands to engage in social impact efforts that appeal to the right consumers with the right causes and through the right channels.”

 

Consumers in the Asia-Pacific are the most willing (55%) to pay extra for products and services from socially responsible companies.

 

This is followed by the Middle East and Africa (53%) and Latin America (49%). Respondents in North America and Europe are the least willing, at 35% and 32% respectively.

 

With regard to age, the survey shows younger consumers are overall more willing to spend extra for products and services from socially responsible companies.

 

More than 50% of all respondents aged 15 to 39 are willing to pay extra for such products and services, compared to 37% of respondents aged over 40.

 

Looking at socially conscious consumers specifically, Nielsen’s findings show 63% are under the age of 40.

 

The survey highlights the importance of social media – socially conscious consumers are more likely than other survey respondents to use social media to help make purchasing decisions.

 

And when it comes to causes, socially conscious respondents prioritise environmental sustainability (66%), and improvements to science, technology, engineering and maths education (56%).

 

The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger also rates highly (53%).

 

“Knowing what causes are most important to the socially conscious consumer may help brands prioritise their social investments,” Covey says.

 

“The next step is to understand precisely what causes are important to a brand’s individual customers.”

 

This year’s StartupSmart Top 50 highlights social enterprise and green initiatives as major trends in the start-up sector. The list includes Green Biz Check, which appears at number 31.

 

Founded by Tony Hall and Nicholas Bernhardt, Green Biz Check is a technology-based environmental certification program for business.

 

“We were normal, active businesspeople who were extremely concerned about the ramifications of climate change,” co-founder Tony Hall told StartupSmart.

 

“[We] wanted to utilise our skills, experience and contacts to take action about this potentially devastating issue and give back to the community and environment, while also helping businesses become more profitable.”