Despite prolonged global recession, more Canadians vote with their wallets in
support of brands that have social purpose

    
         According to the 2009 Global Edelman goodpurpose(TM) Study

    -  51% have purchased a brand that supports a good cause even if it
                         wasn't the cheapest brand -

    -  89% willing to change consumption habits if it can help make the
                       world a better place to live -
    

TORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW/ - Despite still feeling the impact of the global recession, consumers are placing increased demand on companies, brands, and themselves to reset their priorities and step up their social commitment, according to new findings released today from the 3rd annual Edelman goodpurpose(TM) Consumer Study. In fact, the survey of 6,000 people in 10 countries revealed that during this recession, 57 percent believe a company or brand has earned their business because it has been doing its part to support good causes. While more than half (56 percent) believe the interests of both society and business should have equal weight in business decisions, consumers are increasingly recognizing and rewarding brands that contribute to the greater good - with 63 percent looking to brands and companies to make it easier for them to make a difference.

The study results suggest that brands will continue to benefit from identifying and contributing to a positive social purpose that makes sense for their business not only because customers will become more committed and energized purchasers, but more importantly because, as the research shows, 64 percent would recommend a brand that supports a good cause (up from 52 percent in 2008). Further, two out of three (67 percent) say they would switch brands if another brand of similar quality supported a good cause.

As Canadian Consumer Values Evolve, So Do Business Opportunities

In Canada, over half (58 percent) expect brands today to support a good cause and 89 percent would be willing to change consumption habits if it could help make the world a better place to live.

Results from the study, coupled with the realities of the prolonged recession, indicate new consumer shifts have resulted in a startling trend away from traditional status markers like big houses and luxury cars and toward identification with social purpose itself, supporting the need for companies to become aligned with an authentic social purpose. The goodpurpose study shows that today three times as many people (75 percent) would rather drive a hybrid car than a luxury car (25 percent), and that four out of five (83 percent) Canadians would prefer to live in an eco-friendly house than merely a big house (17 percent). Sixty-nine percent of people also now feel that it's becoming more unacceptable not to make noticeable efforts to show concern for the environment and live a healthy lifestyle, and 87 percent of Canadian respondents (compared to 69 percent globally) would rather have a brand that supports the livelihood of local producers than a designer brand (13 percent).

"Consumers are now wearing, driving, eating, and living their social purpose, as sustained engagement with good causes becomes a new criterion for social status and good social behavior," said Lisa Kimmel, General Manager, Edelman Toronto. "This gives companies and brands that become associated with a positive and worthy cause an opportunity to build long-term relationships with consumers that, in turn, allow consumers to feel valuable within their communities and social sets."

The need for companies to look beyond traditional marketing tactics and to social purpose to reach consumers (during the current economic atmosphere and once the economy improves) is further fueled by data revealing that 71 percent think brands and companies should spend less on advertising and marketing and more on good causes (up almost 10 percent from 2008).

Businesses are increasingly taking notice. In fact, social purpose is now integrated into the business purpose for many companies and brands, as new markets are created around it and it is used to protect share and enhance loyalty and reputation within existing markets. Examples among the emerging set of brands that have created a market around social purpose include Ben & Jerry's, Brita, Innocent Smoothies, TOMS Shoes, and Toyota Prius.

"People are demanding social purpose, and brands are recognizing it as an area where they can differentiate themselves and in many parts of the world, not only meet governmental compliance requirements, but also build brand equity," said Kimmel. "This year's study shows that if companies respond intelligently to the sea change in consumer attitudes, brand loyalty among consumers - even during seriously challenging economic times - will actually grow. Even better, consumers will want to share their support for these brands with others."

Consumer Demand Presents Brands an Opportunity to Deliver on Social

Purpose

While the global recession has created limitations, with 65 percent of Canadian consumers saying their ability to give money to community causes has been limited (versus 70 percent globally), people are still giving of their time. Forty six percent have given less financial support due to the current economic downturn (high compared to 33 percent globally, but low compared to 51 percent among U.S. respondents), but 29 percent are more involved in good causes than a year ago. In addition, 49 percent have tried to do more to support good causes in the past year because charities and other nonprofit organizations have suffered in this economic environment - underscoring both consumers' desire to increase their social purpose activities, as well as the opportunity for companies and brands to develop initiatives that enlist consumers to help them work to effect positive change.

An Authentic Social Purpose Is Key

While the study reveals that social purpose is becoming increasingly crucial to a brand's success, it's also true that a brand purpose must be authentic and true to the core values of the brand itself. To identify such a platform, brands must look beyond traditional corporate social responsibility programs in which they donate money to a random good cause, no matter how heartfelt. As the goodpurpose study notes, 67 percent of people say that it's no longer enough for corporations to merely give money away, but that they must integrate good causes into their day-to-day business. Thus, brands need to evolve their own thinking, from corporate social responsibility alone to mutual social responsibility based on a purpose mutually shared between brand and consumers that celebrates participation and involvement and delivers a long-lasting, positive mutual benefit - encouraging a melding of CSR and brand marketing in which the brand itself becomes a catalyst for social change.

"Companies that respond to rising consumer expectations that they and their brands help make the world a better place will not only survive, but also thrive, in ways their competitors will not," said Kimmel. "People today are more passionately supportive than ever, yet more demanding and unforgiving, as well."

More information about the goodpurpose Consumer Study and consultancy, interviews with managers of brands that are engaged in social purpose and news about socially active brands are available at www.goodpurposecommunity.com.

Continue the social purpose conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/goodpurpose and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LIVEgoodpurpose.

About the Edelman goodpurpose(TM)

Consumer Study

The 2009 goodpurpose(TM) survey was fielded among consumers ages 18-64 across ten countries from July to August 2009. The research firm StrategyOne conducted an online survey in all countries except India and China, where the survey was conducted face-to-face. The survey sampled 6026 adults in the U.S., China, Canada, U.K., Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Japan and India. The study was representative of the country population.

About goodpurpose(TM)

The goodpurpose(TM) cooperative is a consultancy from Edelman designed to mine the creative, socially responsible and financially lucrative opportunities that can arise when brands and consumers join forces around a social platform or meaningful cause. The consultancy features a cross-practice, cross-country team of professionals with expertise ranging from brand marketing, health and technology to entertainment, digital media, research, and corporate social responsibility. The goodpurpose offering includes an interactive workshop and exploration, research and insight data, creative campaign development and execution, and a forum for ongoing dialogue, information gathering and exchange at www.goodpurposecommunity.com.

SOURCE Edelman Public Relations Worldwide

For further information: For further information: Noor Marzook, (416) 979-1120 x 239, noor.marzook@edelman.com

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