How Much Does Corporate Responsibility Guide Consumer Buying Decisions?

Many consumers rank corporate purpose as a top factor

June 18, 2018

Consumers have heightened expectations about corporate responsibility, but product quality and cost are still more powerful drivers when it comes to actual purchase decisions.

A survey of US consumers by Cone Communications and Porter Novelli found that "purpose-driven brands" have a variety of advantages, with 88% of respondents saying they would buy from them, while 85% would "support that company in their community," and 68% said they would work for that company.

When making a buying decision, 41% of respondents said product quality was the primary brand attribute driving their buying, and 39% said cost was the most significant factor.  By comparison, 20% said a brand's purpose was the most critical attribute. 

Similarly, cost and quality outranked purpose when respondents considered whether they would tell others to buy from the company.  

But the fact that a significant minority of consumers weigh purpose so heavily indicates the broad mandate for brands to look beyond their basic operational focus. Top issues of concern identified by the respondents included privacy and internet security (86%), domestic job growth (86%) and access to healthcare (85%). 

A fall 2017 YA report that found that a brand’s relationship with charitable organizations has at least some impact on purchase decisions. Similar to the Cone/Porter Novelli data, the YA survey found a smaller percentage sharply focused on brands' philanthropy, but the topic clearly affects buying attitudes.