Despite Prolonged Global Recession, an Increasing Number of People are Spending on Brands That Have Social Purpose

Wed Oct 21, 2009 6:00am EDT

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Despite Prolonged Global Recession, an Increasing Number of People are
Spending on Brands That Have Social Purpose
According to the 2009 Global Edelman goodpurpose(TM) Study

NEW YORK, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the recession, consumers are still
spending with companies and brands which have a social purpose. New findings
released today from the 3rd annual Edelman goodpurpose(TM) Consumer Study, a
survey of 6,000 people in 10 countries, revealed that during this recession,
57 percent globally say a company or brand has earned their business because
it has been doing its part to support good causes (with Asian countries coming
in highest with China [85 percent] and India [84 percent]).  Two out of three
(67 percent) globally also say they would switch brands if another brand of
similar quality supported a good cause, peaking in Brazil (83 percent) and
Italy (74 percent).


As Consumer Values Evolve, So Do Business Opportunities
The study also found that 83 percent of people are willing to change
consumption habits if it can help make the world a better place to live,
indicating a startling consumer shift and trend away from traditional status
markers like big houses and luxury cars and toward identification with social
purpose brands.  The findings overall show that today more than twice as many
people (67 percent) would rather drive a hybrid car than a luxury car (33
percent), with Japan (89 percent) and France (84 percent) preferring hybrid
cars most.


Globally, the study found that considerably more people (70 percent) would
prefer to live in an eco-friendly house than merely a big house (30 percent),
and 68 percent also now feel that it's becoming more unacceptable not to make
noticeable efforts to show concern for the environment (rising to 82% in
China) and live a healthy lifestyle (87 percent in China).  While 69 percent
globally would rather have a brand that supports the livelihood of local
producers than a designer brand (31 percent), North American and most European
countries in the study, as well as Brazil, overwhelmingly prefer supporting
the livelihood of local producers, with each indicating more than 80 percent
preference.


"People all over the world are now wearing, driving, eating, and living their
social purpose as sustained engagement with good causes becomes a new
criterion for social status and good social behavior," said Mitch Markson,
Edelman's chief creative officer, president of its brand consulting group and
founder of goodpurpose. "This gives companies and brands associated with a
worthy cause an opportunity to build long-term relationships with consumers
that, in turn, allow them to feel valuable within their communities."


The study results suggest that in both harsh and rebounding economies, brands
will continue to benefit from identifying and contributing to a positive
social purpose that makes sense for their business, with 64 percent of people
globally saying they would recommend a brand that supports a good cause (up
from 52 percent in 2008, and in the U.S., up 16 points from 47 percent in 2008
to 63 percent this year).  In addition, 63 percent of all respondents are
looking to brands and companies to make it easier for them to make a
difference, with Brazil having the highest expectations at 86 percent.


"People are demanding social purpose, and brands are recognizing it as an area
where they can differentiate themselves and in many parts of the world, not
only meet governmental compliance requirements, but also build brand equity,"
said Markson. "This year's study shows that if companies respond intelligently
to the sea change in consumer attitudes, brand loyalty among consumers - even
during seriously challenging economic times - will actually grow. Even better,
consumers will want to share their support for these brands with others."


Country Comparisons Indicate Regional Differences
Some interesting country and regional differences emerged in this year's
findings. Brazil proved to have the highest expectations on brands with 89
percent expecting brands today to do something to support a good cause, and
Brazilians (61 percent) are most likely to say they are more involved in good
causes this year (the U.S. follows second with 36 percent indicating greater
involvement this year).  Consumers in India and China also have strong
opinions about doing good and are significantly more likely to say they are
aware of any brands that currently support good causes.  More than seven in 10
in each of those countries say they would switch brands if a different brand
of similar quality supported a good cause.  Unlike its Asian counterparts,
Japan fell short of many of the global results, with the exception of choosing
social purpose over social status - as respondents overwhelmingly preferred
hybrid cars (89 percent), eco-friendly houses (87 percent), and brands that
support the livelihood of local producers (76 percent). While Europeans are
least likely to think that product brands support good causes nowadays, they
indicate that supporting good causes in their everyday lives is important.
More than three out of four people in the UK, France, Germany and Italy were
willing to change their own consumption habits if it can help make tomorrow's
world a better place to live. Though the economic downturn has made Americans
most likely to give less money to good causes, they too overwhelmingly
indicate they are willing to change consumption habits to make the world a
better place to live (85 percent) and are looking to companies and brands to
make it easier for them to make a difference (65 percent).


Consumers Give More Time, Presenting Brands an Opportunity to Deliver on
Social Purpose
While the global recession has created limitations, with 70 percent of
consumers saying their ability to give money to community causes has been
limited, people are still giving of their time.  Thirty-three percent have
given less financial support due to the current economic downturn (rising to
51 percent among U.S. respondents), but 31 percent are more involved in good
causes than a year ago - and 53 percent have given more time in support of
good causes this year because they have not been able to give as much money. 
In addition, 56 percent have tried to do more to support good causes in the
past year because charities and other nonprofit organizations have suffered in
this economic environment - underscoring both consumers' desire to increase
their social purpose activities, as well as the opportunity for companies and
brands to develop initiatives that enlist consumers to help them work to
effect positive change.


An Authentic Social Purpose Is Key
While the study reveals that social purpose is becoming increasingly crucial
to a brand's success, a brand purpose must be authentic and true to the core
values of the brand itself, and brands must look beyond traditional corporate
social responsibility programs in which they simply donate money to a good
cause.  As the study notes, 66 percent of people believe that it's no longer
enough for corporations to merely give money away, but that they must
integrate good causes into their day-to-day business.


"Companies that become catalysts for social change and respond to rising
consumer expectations that they and their brands help make the world a better
place will not only survive, but also thrive, in ways their competitors will
not," said Markson. "Mutual social responsibility provides that opportunity,
as people today are more passionately involved and supportive than ever, yet
more demanding and unforgiving, as well."


Continue the social purpose conversation at www.goodpurposecommunity.com, on
Facebook at www.facebook.com/goodpurpose and on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/LIVEgoodpurpose.


Key 2009 Global Data Highlights


Biggest Global Changes Since 2008


    --  71% think brands and companies spend too much on advertising and
        marketing and should put more into good causes - up almost 10
percentage
        points
    --  64% would recommend a brand that supports a good cause - up from 52%
        last year globally
    --  59% would help a brand promote its products if there was a good cause
        behind it - up from 53% last year
    --  44% are aware of brands that actively support good causes through
their
        products and services - up from 33%

    --  16% find contentment from shopping - down from 25%



Key 2009 Global Data Highlights


    --  83% willing to change consumption habits if it can help make the world
a
        better place to live
    --  70% prefer an eco-friendly house to a big house (30%)
    --  68% feel that it is becoming more unacceptable not to make efforts to
        show concern for the environment and live a healthy lifestyle
    --  67% would switch brands if another brand of similar quality supported
a
        good cause
    --  67% prefer a hybrid car to a luxury car (33%)
    --  64% would recommend a brand that supports a good cause
    --  64% expect brands today to support a good cause
    --  63% are looking toward brands and companies to make it easier for them
        to make a difference
    --  61% have bought a brand that supports a good cause even if it wasn't
the
        cheapest brand
    --  59% have a better opinion of corporations that integrate good causes
        into their business no matter why they do so (61% in the U.S., 51% in
        Germany, 58% in Italy, 64% in India, 65% in China and 52% in Japan)
    --  57% say a company or brand has earned their business because it has
done
        its part to support good causes

    --  56% believe societal and corporate interest should have equal weight
in
        business decisions



Source: 2009 Edelman goodpurpose(TM) Study


About the Edelman goodpurpose(TM) Consumer Study
The 2009 goodpurpose(TM) survey was fielded among consumers ages 18-64 across
ten countries from July to August 2009. The research firm StrategyOne
conducted an online survey in all countries except India and China, where the
survey was conducted face-to-face. The survey sampled 6026 adults in the U.S.,
China, Canada, U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Japan and India. The
study was representative of the country population.


About Edelman  
Edelman is the world's leading independent public relations firm, with 3,200
employees in 51 offices worldwide. Edelman was named PRWeek's "2009 Agency of
the Year," PRWeek's "Large Agency of the Year" (for the third time in the last
four years), and Holmes Report's "2009 Best Large Agency to Work For" and was
listed as a top-10 firm by Advertising Age in 2007 and 2008. Edelman owns
specialty firms Blue (advertising), StrategyOne (research), and BioScience
Communications (medical education and publishing). Visit www.edelman.com for
more information.





    Contact:
    Latraviette D. Smith
    212.704.4530
    latraviette.smith@edelman.com



SOURCE  Edelman

Latraviette D. Smith, +1-212-704-4530, latraviette.smith@edelman.com
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