Capitalism With a Purpose

With the economy awash in red ink, what do consumers expect of corporations? One might think they’d be satisfied just to see companies stay in business. But no—not in the post-Sept. 11 world. The 2001 Cone/Roper Corporate Citizenship Study (fielded in late October) finds more people than ever want corporations to support good causes. Seventy-seven percent said a “company’s commitment to causes is important when I decide what to buy or where to shop.” By contrast, 52 percent said the same in a poll conducted in March. Likewise, 81 percent said they’re “likely to switch brands, when price and quality are equal, to support a cause” (versus 54 percent in March). In the unlikely event a corporation is tempted to hide its philanthropic light under a basket, the poll indicates it shouldn’t: 88 percent of respondents said companies “should tell them how they are supporting causes.”