Study: CSR and Charity More Valuable Than Ever, Especially Among Hispanics

shutterstock_76636639One thing that pretty much every Millennial consumer study tells us is that young people greatly appreciate brands that act responsibly, even if they don’t always have the time to research the nitty gritty or compare and contrast which businesses live up to their taglines.

A recent study by Cone Communications, however, went a bit deeper. Some findings:

  • 88% of the public wants to learn more about what companies with existing CSR programs are doing
  • 94% of Hispanic Americans say they’re “very likely” to switch brands based on CSR efforts (compared to 89% in the population at large)
  • 75% of Hispanics have already donated to charities this year (65% among general public)

The basic conclusions are obvious for brands, but we’ll do a little more digging (full study available for download here):

A shrinking minority believes that brands don’t have a responsibility to get involved:

  • 22% of respondents think businesses aren’t “necessarily responsible” for supporting social/environmental issues, but…
  • 25% think they should get involved by donating, and…
  • 25% think they should both donate and use their media reach to get the word out, while…
  • 21% think they should “change the way they operate” to better align with these larger issues

Lest you think this is all about turning your business “green”, the public has a specific list of causes they want addressed:

  • 44% want to hear about economic development (investing in the communities that buy your products and services)
  • 10% care most about human rights, 8% about education, 7% about general health and 4% about access to fresh water

The more local your efforts, the better:

  • 43% think brands should support projects that visibly affect local communities
  • 85% think CSR is “very” or “somewhat” important when determining which businesses they want to see in their communities

But—as we’ve reported before—they’re skeptical of your claims:

  • Only 16% think that companies’ actions have had a big positive impact
  • 60% are confused by CSR messages

They’re not going to dive too deeply into your own materials to research your CSR efforts, but they’re willing to interact on social media, especially if they’re multicultural: 62% of Hispanics report engaging with brands over social/environmental issues vs. 52% of the public at large.

In summary: consumers want to know that you’re making an effort, they want proof that your projects have a real impact on local communities, and they want you to tell the public more about the underlying issues. In case you need the message spelled out a bit more clearly, a recent study by Corporate Responsibility Magazine (that’s a thing!!) found that 69% of American respondents would rather remain unemployed than work for a company with a poor reputation. OK then.

This explains why companies like Cisco, Campbell’s and Ritz Carlton now have social feeds devoted strictly to news regarding CSR efforts. That’s a big step in the right direction, but the connection between these feeds and the average supermarket shopper remains elusive. There’s an old saying about a tree falling in the forest…