Corporate Social Responsibility and the Influence on Purchase Decisions

WIN International, the world’s leading association in market research and polling has published the Annual Win World Survey (WWS – 2021) exploring the views and beliefs of 33236 individuals among citizens from 39 countries across the globe about Corporate Social Responsibility, what do people know about this concept, its importance and influence on their daily purchases.


General knowledge about CSR

The awareness about Corporative Social Responsibility among interviewed people was equally distributed between positive and negative answers: while 48% already heard about the concept, 42% of the group did not; 10% didn’t answer the question or didn’t know.

Even when looking at age groups and gender, data are equally distributed between those who know about CSR and those who don’t, while some differences can be found when looking at global regions. On one hand, in Europe and APAC there are more people who are aware of the concept than people who are not. In America as well, but the difference is of less than one percent. On the other hand, respondents in MENA region are less aware about CSR, with 60% of people not knowing what CSR stands for over 35% who do know.

Across the world, the higher the level of education, the more people know about Corporate Social Responsibility. When it comes to employment, people who work full time, students and retired people tend to know more about CSR, while part – time workers and unemployed or housewives are less aware about the concept.

Efforts to embrace and promote CSR

When thinking about the real efforts to embrace and promote CSR, 39% tends to believe that companies are not seriously doing it, and that the actions in place are only made for appearance, followed by 25% who believes most companies do not care at all about CSR. Results highlight how negative the opinions towards the efforts put in place by companies are, with the majority of people affirming that corporates seem to have little interest in sustainability and eco – friendly habits. However, there is also a share of people who tend to be more optimistic: 19% say most companies are seriously operating with corporate social responsibility and sustainability, a share that reaches 31% in APAC region. Most critical opinions can be found in Europe, where 48% say companies only talk about CSR for appearance (+9% than global average) and MENA, where 35% say companies do not care at all (+10% compared to global average).

Among higher educated people there are more respondents believing that companies are seriously operating with CSR, but the conviction that ‘it is only appearance’ still prevails.

Within the countries that were included in the present research, the option “most companies are seriously operating with CSR and sustainability” got its highest percentages in APAC countries. Nevertheless, the opinions about companies being careless about CSR are the ones that predominate almost in every country.

The importance of being aware of actions taken by companies/brands

When asked about the importance of being aware of the socially responsible behaviors of companies/brands that they are customers of, most people (70%) consider it important, while only 24% do not think it is relevant[1]. When looking at occupations, the ones that are more conscious about the importance of being aware of the actions undertaken by companies are students, full-time workers and retired people. In addition, the higher education level, the more important being aware of CSR practices is.

The influence of CSR

Finally, the results related to the influence of Corporate Social Responsibility on purchase decisions provide some more interesting insights: on a global level, 62% say socially responsible behaviors of companies influences their purchase decisions, while 31% say they do not[2], meaning that people are increasingly more paying attention to companies’ ethical conducts and social role.

Results reflect the same distribution when comparing data between regions and gender, while an indirect relationship can be found when looking at age: older people tend to be less influenced by CSR and companies’ ethical conducts when it comes to their purchases.

Vilma Scarpino, President of WIN International Association, said:

Corporate Social Responsibility is an increasingly more important subject, which however is not widely known yet: indeed, there is still a large share of the population who does not know what CSR stands for, which means that efforts in terms of communication and awareness need to be undertaken. Respondents are also skeptical about companies’ commitment to sustainable goals, which stresses ones again the need for companies to increase awareness on one hand, and trust and transparency on the other.

On the other hand, individuals not only believe that being aware of companies’ CSR commitments is important for them as consumers, but they also believe a company’s conduct directly influences their purchase decisions.

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