Do Consumers buy from companies that take a stand?

New research from Accenture reports that nearly two-thirds of consumers globally (63%) prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs.

-However, this study is flawed because consumers are more likely to answer surveys stating that they are “socially responsible” when they really aren’t.

-Strong arguments can be made that brands like Amazon, Facebook and Apple do not stand for the shared beliefs of of most consumers yet they flourish. 

The Accenture study, which surveyed nearly 30,000 consumers from around the world, found that companies that stand for something bigger than what they sell, communicate their purpose and demonstrate commitment are more likely to attract consumers and influence purchasing decisions, which improves competitiveness.  However, I have my doubts.

It’s easy to hold brands accountable when you’re answering a survey, but it’s another to drive an extra 5-10 miles to avoid a retailer who is reported not to be socially responsible.  To many consumers convenience outweighs a retailers social position.

A perfect example is Amazon.com.  Under pressure from politicians Amazon recently raised hourly wages to $15 but in doing so they took away employee bonuses.

Apple is another example.  They stashed over $250 billion overseas to avoid paying taxes and used the tax cut to buy back $100 million in stock.  Despite this consumer still purchase Apple products in droves.

Finally, there is Facebook.  The missteps of Facebook management should shake everyone’s confidence in personal information, but the “mass exodus” of Facebook users has never materialized.

Bottom Line

Consumers like to think they are holding brands accountable, but that only takes place if they have alternate choices that they hold in high regard and if it’s convenient.  We all answer surveys by how we think we like to act, but the reality are very different.