Across most countries consumers agree that companies ought to be taking a more socially responsible approach to business, but people are more insistent about it in some of the less developed countries.

When people were asked recently what a company has to do to gain respect, 25% of the respondents answered that it must contribute to the socio-economic development of the countries where it operates. The same proportion said that the firm must prioritise workplace safety, while 24% replied that it must respect and adhere to local laws and rights. These are the findings of a survey conducted among 18,150 adults in 24 countries by independent global opinion research company Ipsos, which asked people their views on corporate social responsibility and large companies. However, the results point to some disparities between the views prevalent in more developed countries and in emerging countries, both as regards the efforts they expect from companies and the impact this has on whether they are likely to buy from that brand.

Emerging country inhabitants have higher expectations

Respondents from emerging countries stood out clearly in the survey as tending to expect an effort from major companies. Turkey, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Mexico topped the list for those who agreed with the statement that ‘companies should do more to contribute to society’; in these countries 76 - 85% of those surveyed agreed. At the bottom of the list we find Japan, the United States, Great Britain and Australia, where only 22 - 34% of those quizzed strongly agreed with this statement. These are also the four countries whose citizens appeared to be the least demanding when it comes to environmental matters, while once again people in Mexico, Turkey and Brazil came out as being the most demanding of a company’s CSR performance.

Influencing the purchase decision

The importance of the degree of corporate social responsibility exhibited by a firm at the moment of a purchase decision also varies according to country. CSR again seems to be more important in emerging countries than in the developed world. For example, while only 11% of French people polled said they considered this an important criterion, the figure in Indonesia and Brazil worked out five times as high. Overall, 29% judge the criterion to be ‘very important’ and another 45% deem it ‘fairly important’. The survey analysis treated respondents as both citizens and consumers – and found a considerable difference between the two profiles. While two thirds of citizens say they take account of companies’ corporate social responsibility performance, when they are put in the position of consumers only one third say they are actually influenced by CSR.


By Timothée Sicot
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