The recently released Good Purpose Global Study by Edelman reveals that consumers want corporations to place the interests of society on at least an equal footing with making a profit.

‘Cause marketing as we know it is dead. It’s time to pay attention,’ said Carol Cone, founder and chairman of Cone LLC, while introducing the annual study by Edelman.

More than 7,000 consumers, aged 18 to 64, were surveyed in 13 countries for the study – and the topline result was fascinating as it showed that 87 per cent of those surveyed thought that corporations’ focus on society’s welfare should be the same as it is on making profits.

At a panel discussion last week at the BSR Conference, Cone had said that corporate ‘purpose’ has come to displace corporate philanthropy and cause marketing. ‘Slapping on a ribbon or some other short-term association does not work any more,’ she said.

Nearly 47 per cent of respondents of the survey said they believed that brands supported causes only for publicity and promotion, not because they really cared. That was an increase of 10 percentage points from the survey last year.

Some highlights from the Good Purpose study:

  • Consumers in Brazil, China, India and Mexico are more likely than Americans to purchase and promote brands that support good causes. They also demonstrate higher expectations of brands to support good causes. Approximately, 8 in 10 consumers in the emerging markets expect brands to do something to support a good cause, while only sixty-three per cent of Americans agree.
  • For four years in a row, American consumers rank purpose as significantly more important than design/innovation or brand loyalty as a purchase trigger when quality and price are the same.

  • While a significant number of consumers are willing to purchase, recommend and promote companies that show a commitment to good causes, many are also willing to punish those that do not. More than one-third of consumers would punish a company that does not actively support a good cause, by criticizing it to others and refusing to buy its products/services.

  • About 53 per cent would help promote a socially responsible brand by promoting it on Facebook or Twitter.