Survey finds Asians have high expectations for societal action
Consumers in four Asian countries have been identified as being amongst the world’s most involved in societal issues by a new survey carried out by global public relations firm Edelman.
China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia are joined by Brazil and the United Arab Emirates in a group dubbed by Edelman as “Purpose Bull Markets” while Japan is among the “Purpose Bear Markets” of Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Edelman says its Goodpurpose study is designed to explore consumer attitudes around social purpose, including their commitment to specific societal issues and their expectations of brands and corporations. This year’s annual survey, Edelman’s fifth, has an enlarged Asian component that also includes Singapore (rated somewhere in the middle), with 500 on-line respondents from each of 16 countries making up a global total of 8,000.
Business in Asia should take heart from Edelman’s finding that Asian consumers appear willing to put more trust in ethical and socially responsible brands, with trust highest among the Chinese (93 percent) followed by Indonesians (85 percent), Malaysians (83 percent), Indians (80 percent) and Singaporeans (78 percent). Their likelihood of recommending brands that support a good cause is almost equally high, with 89 percent of Chinese saying they would do so and 79 percent of Singaporeans, with the rest in between.
Perhaps a little less convincingly (until they put their money where there mouths are), 80 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said they are a willing to pay a premium for cause, with 71 percent of Indians, 55 percent of Malaysians, 44 percent of Singaporeans and 42 percent of Indonesians saying the same.
“The attitudes of Asian consumers uncovered in this survey echo the findings of our Trust Barometer study earlier this year,” said Ashley Hegland, the Asia Pacific director of Edelman’s sustainability practice.
“What that showed was societal attributes – such as listening to customers, taking action to address issues, treating employees well and having ethical business practices – are becoming far more important components of what goes to make up overall trust in business in this part of the world. Traditional operational attributes, such as delivering consistent financial results and new product innovation, are becoming less important factors in the business trust equation.”
Among the Asian consumers outside of Japan a resounding 91 percent felt business should put an at least equal weight on societal issues as business issues while 31 percent felt businesses were doing a good or excellent job at addressing societal issues. This is, however, not so very different from the global average of 87 percent and 28 percent respectively for these measures.
It is striking how consistent consumer expectation of business is worldwide, according to the Goodpurpose study. At the highest, 94 percent of Indonesian respondents expect societal issues to be given at least equal weight while at the bottom of the scale 79 percent of Japanese consumers have the same feeling.
Perceptions of business performance are far more varied with only 14 percent of French survey respondents thinking business was doing well at addressing societal issues compared to 58 percent of Indians. The Chinese and Malaysians both gave the business sector a 42 percent thumbs up.
Indian consumers’ high estimation of business is no doubt linked to their low expectation of government. When asked who should be most responsible for addressing societal issues 80 percent of Chinese respondents pointed to government while only 40 percent of those in the world’s largest democracy put government at the top of the list.