German Consumers want more Ethical Behaviour from Brands

13 Sep 2010|Added Value

More & more corporations are looking past “green” to find Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives that dovetail with their offerings. Our recent German consumer study, confirms a shift from ‘green’ to ethics with consumers too.

Back in 2007, Icon Added Value ran a CSR study amongst German consumers to understand the relevance of CSR topics in German society and the impact this has on brands. Three years on, quite a bit has changed in the social landscape – a global financial crisis for one.  So how have these changes influenced the purchasing decisions of German consumers? We repeated the same study in June this year, with 1000 German respondents, asking their views on 27 CSR topics, 17 sectors and 35 brands.

In 2007, climate change and the need to address it was the number one priority for our respondents. CO2 emissions were big news and car and energy brands were deemed least responsible in the consumer’s eyes.  Fast forward to 2010, and the global financial crisis has put the spotlight firmly on transparency, honesty and the banking industry.  Distrust is everywhere and consumers are extremely critical of both the financial industry and of the government. Business ethics and fair treatment of employees are ranked highest for concern by our respondents. 68% mentioned salary and bonus as their highest concern. And the fair treatment of employees was up 12% compared to 2007.

84% of consumers want to see more ethical behavior. And they hold both the government and brands accountable to deliver; up 34% compared to 2007 for government and up 23% compared to 2007 for corporations.

Small correlates to responsible in our respondents minds.  68% said small businesses act more responsible. By stark comparison only 16% thought big business could be responsible, irrespective of sector or origin.

National pride and ‘Made in Germany’ continue to gain relevance in the area of CSR. 52% of consumers believe national brands are more responsible, with the exception of the financial services.  This is evident by their choice of the Top 5 most responsible brands (all German): Landliebe, DM, Bosch, Audi and Tchibo. By comparison, 37% believe European brands act responsibly, 18% for UK brands, 11% for USA brands, and only 7% for brands from Asia. Companies and brands are an integral part of German society. And as such, society looks up to them to find the solutions. 47% of Germans see this as a critical factor for their brand choice (up from 43% in 2007) As we have stated before, strong brands that engage in CSR initiatives that dovetail with their offerings are better positioned to reap the rewards. And the research backs it up.

For a full report of the study (currently only in German) please contact Anne Kirchhof. Details of study: conducted online with 1000 nationally represented consumers in June 2010.


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