New Research Reveals Wealthy Consumer Habits Toward Social Responsibility

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The Luxury Institute has published a new report mapping out consumer behavior by those with higher incomes, starting from $150,000 per year. Called Corporate Social Responsibility: The Wealthy Consumer’s Viewpoint, the report reveals that Americans with higher spending power value socially responsible corporate behavior, rate companies and publicize the importance of socially responsible practices when taking purchasing decisions. The report compared data with a previous, similar survey carried out in 2007.

Most (82 percent) wealthy Americans define social responsibility by a company behaving ethically with employees, customers and suppliers. 58 per cent of respondents name Environmental behavior and philanthropic actions as an essential component of CSR (58%).

45 percent of wealthy consumers say they seek out brands with high ethical standards, but only 39 percent of these shoppers would be willing to pay a premium. This represents a sharp decrease from 2007, when 56 percent of respondents said they would pay a premium.

Social networks have become important tools to find out more about a company’s CSR stance. 27 percent of wealthy consumers said they learn about companies’ socially responsible behavior via Facebook or Twitter. That’s up from eight per cent who received their information from social media in 2007. Reading news articles remains the most popular method (52 percent), but it has decreased from 64 percent compared with five years ago.

Amongst the companies most often cited for their ethical behavior are Apple, BMW, Coach, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nordstrom, Starbucks and Whole Foods.

“Even wealthy consumers have de-emphasized social responsibility as this economy focuses everyone on price/value and away from social issues,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Nevertheless, we see that luxury and premium brands that are socially responsible do better even during recessions because doing well by doing good is a universal and timeless concept.”

Respondents reported average income of $307,000 and average net worth of $3.1 million.

Article by Antonio Pasolini of Justmeans, appearing courtesy 3BL Media.

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Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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