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theharrispoll-company-csr-reputation-effect-consumer-decisions-dec2016For 16% of American adults, a company’s reputation for social responsibility has a strong effect on the decisions about what to buy and who to do business with, per results from a Harris Poll survey of more than 2,000 US adults. While that’s outweighed by the 20% for whom corporate social responsibility (CSR) reputation has no effect at all, most Americans say that CSR affects their decisions at least once in a while.

Beyond the 16% who are strongly affected by CSR reputation, another 32% said it sometimes affects their decisions and an additional 24% reported that it affects their decisions at least once in a while.

The impact of a company’s CSR on purchase decisions doesn’t appear to vary much by generation, with a low of 15% of 35-44-year-olds reporting no effect to a high of 27% among the 55-64 bracket. However, that latter age group is among the most likely to report a strong effect on their decisions, such that the differences overall aren’t too dramatic. Separate research into CSR has found that it tends to be taken into consideration more by Millennials than by older age groups, though.

Looking further across demographic groups, the results indicate that:

  • Men (23%) are significantly more likely than women (16%) to say that a company’s reputation for social responsibility has no effect at all on their decisions about what to buy and who to do business with, as men aged 55-64 (35%) seem particularly likely to ignore this;
  • Women aged 45-54 are 37.5% more likely than the adult average (22% vs. 16%) to say that a company’s CSR has a strong effect on their decisions;
  • A company’s CSR reputation is 50% more likely to have a strong impact on parents with children under 18 in the household than on those without kids in the household (21% vs. 14%);
  • Respondents identifying as Democrats (22%) are almost twice as likely as those identifying as Republicans (12%) to say that a company’s reputation for social responsibility has a strong effect on their decisions; and
  • LGBT respondents are more than twice as likely as non-LGBT respondents to report a strong effect on their decisions (33% vs. 15%).

The survey, fielded primarily to gauge attitudes towards Giving Tuesday (November 29), also found that only 1 in 4 adults have heard of Giving Tuesday, including just 4% who have participated. Some 48% claim to be likely to make a contribution on Giving Tuesday, though.

Who might they donate to? Human services, such as blood banks, food banks and homeless shelters, could be first in line as the charities that consumers prioritize. One in 5 respondents said that human services charities are the ones they care most about personally and/or donate their time and/or money to the most. Following human services are charities focused on animals (12%), religious organizations (11%) and youth/family charities (8%).

In terms of Giving Tuesday intentions, though, youth/family charities (28%) are tied with animal charities (28%) in trailing human services (52%).

About the Data: The Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between November 18 and 22, 2016 among 2,049 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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