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Going Green: How Corporate Social Responsibility Can Boost Your Bottom Line

3 minute read | Johnny Gorman, Director – Shopper Practice, Nielsen | September 2014


Corporate social responsibility is practiced by companies dedicated to making a positive social or environmental impact on society. It can also create goodwill for an organisation’s reputation and contribute positively to brand health and performance.

According to Nielsen’s corporate social responsibility survey, three in five Australian consumers think more highly of a company that supports worthy causes and over half feel increased loyalty to that brand.You’d be hard pressed to find an Australian who said he or she didn’t care. But does care convert to action when it comes to buying decisions?

One in two consumers said when buying a product or service from a company it is very important to them that the company shows a high level of social and or environmental responsibility and a third of Australians buy from companies for this reason each month.

Consumers are willing to support a brand because of their ‘go green’ or ‘go social’ credentials but are they willing to pay more? The survey showed that two in five Australians will, and 29 percent bought a product or service from a company supporting a worthy cause in the last month even though it was slightly more expensive.

We have seen growth in grocery products with clear positioning around the environment. Nielsen research reveals household cleaning products with eco labelling saw a 14.2 percent increase in value sales when compared to a year ago. And shoppers are paying on average nearly $2 more per litre for eco-friendly dishwashing products.

More and more consumers expect corporations to be socially responsible. It enables you to differentiate your brand and effectively create shared value by marrying the appropriate social cause to your consumer segments.

To succeed in sustainability, companies should consider this five-part approach:

1. VISION. Be clear and actionable2. ENDORSEMENT. Get adoption and action from senior leadership3. STRATEGY. Focus on outward messaging and consistent cause messaging4. ACCOUNTABILITY. Use key performance indicators, internally and externally5. MEASUREMENT. Quantify program outcomes and return on investment

Opportunities to ‘Go Green’ exist in any category, but you need to understand your brand’s core equity to determine how far you can credibly stretch into the space. The best initiatives are those that appeal to a heterogeneous group of buyers, but a keen focus on your most passionate (and profitable) consumer segments is also vital.

Finally, while many consumers may perceive sustainable products to cost more, you need to understand your optimal price point and the impact on volume and profit.

Download the Nielsen Global Report on Corporate Social Responsibility here.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility was conducted between Feb. 17 and March 7, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6 percent. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behaviour of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

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