Thursday, September 2, 2010

The young, the CSR and the Brand

What good is your effort to be a Socially Responsible corporation when a large sector of the population simply ignores that factor in their buying decisions?

A recent study of Canadians may upset the prevailing thinking about how companies improve their brand and their bottom line.

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, is an increasingly expensive branding proposition for companies. Most research shows consumers are increasingly looking at a company's reputation in their purchasing decisions. Even in a poor economy, more and more consumers are looking beyond just a good brand name or a discount.

While the actual percentages of CSR-based product purchases are still low, the trends tell companies they must keep examining which social causes to support. Like, saving the environment or cancer research.

However, research released this week by a Canadian advertising firm indicates the under-30 crowd are more ambivalent about a company's reputation in their purchasing decision. (Which seems strange to me, since I perceived all Canadians as being ultra-sensitive about the environment).

What's more, it seems social media has had a huge influence on how the younger audience developed a lack of interest in social issues. (Insert rant here about twitter and the devil).

It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that younger audiences are more swayed by "flash" and glitter and "coolness" versus whether a product is made by a company that wants to save the rainforest. If you've had a teenager in your life, you don't need research to tell you this.

But with this Canadian study examining a broader prime buying audience all the way to, gasp, age 29, the conventional wisdom is in a mild turmoil. Yeah, we can see how a 22 YO is not looking at social causes. But a 29 YO?

Prediction: Watch for a slew of more research diving into both of these issues (CSR among young folks and the influence of social media on social causes).
So, are you among the many professionals are scrambling this week - wondering if they need to recalculate their CSR recommendations based on one study, or wait for other research to come in?

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