Report:
CSR No Longer Optional, Now a Reputational Imperative

Consumers now expect companies to be an active participant — if not a driving force — in solving the most pressing social and environmental issues, according to the 2013 Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR Study.

The study is a follow-up to Cone's/Echo Global's 2011 survey of consumer attitudes, perceptions and behaviors around CSR and reflects the sentiments of more than 10,000 citizens in ten of the largest countries in the world by GDP, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Japan.

“Consumers across the globe resoundingly affirm CSR as a critical business strategy,” says Dan Soulas, managing director of Echo Research. “It is vital for companies to understand the unique, market-level nuances to effectively participate in the CSR interchange. A one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work.”

Cone says CSR has never been more urgent — incidents of corporate negligence are eagerly reported by mass media, but consumers all over the world are also taking to social channels to learn and engage around critical issues without constraint. Some two-thirds of global consumers say they use social media to address or engage with companies around CSR, the study shows. While a majority shares positive information with their networks, more than a quarter communicates negative news.

“Social media is changing the face of CSR, as citizens worldwide have unprecedented access to information about corporate behavior,” says Alison DaSilva, executive vice president of Research & Insights for Cone. “They are poised to not only engage with companies around vital issues but also serve as CSR megaphones, equally propagating the good and bad.”

DaSilva, along with Liz Gorman, Cone's Senior Vice President of Sustainable Business Practices, will present the findings from the 2013 study in a webinar, "Global Imperative: CSR Expectations from Today's Global Consumers," on May 29, 10am PT.

A recent study by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility claims social sources such as consumer reviews, blogs and message boards as well as friends, family and co-workers now rival traditional sources such as certifications and media reports as consumers’ most trusted sources for determining whether a product is socially and environmentally responsible.

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