Consumers to reward brands that are socially responsible over COVID-19

Consumers are likely to reward companies and brands they think have acted in a socially responsible way during the COVID-19 crisis.

In research undertaken for Purpose Pulse 77 per cent of the general public expressed that they will support companies and brands that have a broader social purpose, beyond selling their products and services, to help in the fight against coronavirus. For now it seems a majority of consumers (75 per cent) believe companies are responding positively.

However, the data also suggest that some businesses may face reputational as well as economic challenges when they reopen for business, with over half of consumers (51 per cent) saying they would boycott a company or brand that falls short of their expectations.

Underlining the value of acting in a socially responsible way during the COVID-19 crisis, a majority (63 per cent) said they would prefer a product or service, and four in ten (38 per cent) say they would be willing to pay extra for a product or service, from a business that acted in a socially responsible way during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Purpose Pulse tracks trends in the ‘purpose agenda’ and is produced in collaboration by Purpose Union, The Brand and Reputation Collective and Root Cause. The findings are based on a survey of 673 general public consumers aged 16 and over in the UK.

The survey also showed growing sophistication in the public’s perception of corporate philanthropy, meaning that a cheque alone is now not thought to be enough to be socially responsible. In fact, less than half (47 per cent) of respondents thought it was important or very important for companies to donate money to charities. Instead, they want to see responsible business practices such as treating their staff fairly (87 per cent), finding safe ways to provide their goods and services (84 per cent), or adapting their facilities to support the fight against COVID-19 (76 per cent).

Commenting on the findings, Barry Johnston, COO and co-founder of Purpose Union, said: “The COVID-19 emergency is accelerating changes that were already happening. Consumers have increasingly high expectations that companies will deliver on a wider social purpose, beyond a single-minded pursuit of profit at all costs. The economic recovery from the coronavirus is going to be tough. It’s going to be even tougher for brands that have failed this test.”

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