College Students Politically, Socially Aware; Name ‘Most Socially Responsible’ Brands

September 10, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Television | Youth & Gen X

The current college class (students 18-30 years of age) is flexing its muscles not only in terms of size and purchasing power but also striving for change in political direction and corporate social responsibility, according to the findings of Alloy Media + Marketing‘s 2007 Alloy College Explorer, powered by Harris Interactive.

A massive 94% of respondents said they plan to head to the polls in 2008 to vote for a specific candidate for president, and a plurality said they would vote for Barack Obama. Moreover, they continue to push for a socially responsible Corporate America.

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The “Alloy U” awards* for brands perceived by college students as the most socially responsible were also announced, with the unlikely duo of Ben & Jerry’s and Wal-Mart at the top of the list, followed by Coca-Cola. (A wag might say the survey actually gauged college students’ sense of humor.)

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The top 10, according to Alloy U:

  1. Ben & Jerry’s
  2. Wal-Mart
  3. Coca-Cola
  4. Newman’s Own
  5. Target
  6. Yoplait
  7. Whole Foods Market
  8. Burt’s Bees
  9. Starbucks
  10. Kashi

The study asked students what indicators are most important to them in determining a company’s social responsibility. Significantly, 74% list a company’s fair labor practice as most important, followed by eco-friendly or green practices at 66%. Philanthropy holds importance as well – companies that donate to a charity or cause rank high, with 63% citing the attribute.

Social consciousness among students has slightly increased from last year, with 37% (net) of respondents stating they prefer brands that are socially conscientious – a 4% increase over last year’s figures.

Additional results from the study:

  • Most college students do not hold a positive view on the state of affairs in the country, and they do not give high marks to the current administration:
    • 58% (net) said the current situation is only fair or poor.
    • President George W. Bush’s performance in the White House garnered only fair or poor marks, with almost three-quarters (73%) expressing dissatisfaction.
  • A whopping 80% of students (ages 18-30) surveyed report being registered to vote.
  • 94% of those self-reported registered voters say they plan to vote for a specific candidate for President:
    • Senator Barack Obama is the apparent frontrunner, getting the majority vote with 22% of students saying they would vote for him.
    • Senator Hillary Clinton comes in a close second, getting 19% of the student vote.
    • Republican Rudy Giuliani follows with 11% of the vote
    • Senator John McCain has the support of 6%.
  • Asked which group has the greatest ability to make positive changes in the world, 35% said people their age, followed by the US Government (24%) and  Fortune 500 Companies (12%).
  • 70% of students who say they have an issue that will impact their vote in 2008 claim they are getting their information about these issues online, almost equal to information viewed on TV; more than half (55%) rely on word-of-mouth from friends, more so than parents.
  • The War in Iraq is the top concern for students, with two-thirds (66%) reporting that this issue will most influence their vote.
    • The economy plays an equally pivotal role, with 54% reporting significance, followed by healthcare issues (48%), social security (47%), the environment (46%) and immigration (43%).
    • Candidates’ stance on gay marriages (40%) and homeland security (37%) garner considerable attention as well.

* Respondents were asked to choose up to three companies from a provided list, or to specify a company outside the list, that they feel give back to the community, support a specific cause, are environmentally friendly or are socially responsible.

About the study: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Alloy Media + Marketing between April 11 and April 30, 2007 among 1,592 adults (college students (full-time, part-time, 4-yr., 2-yr., ages 18 to 30)). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, region and school status (full-time, part-time, 4-yr., 2-yr.) 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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