GOOD

The Good Gap: Why Do Chinese Consumers Care More About Responsible Business Than Americans?

Citizen consumers in emerging markets care more about social responsibility and ethical business than those in developed countries. Why the good gap?


Despite—or perhaps because of—the relative immaturity of their economies, people in China, Brazil, and India expect companies to do more good than people in the United States and Europe.

A new survey from Edelman Public Relations, a global communications agency, examines how consumers relate to companies and brands around social purpose, and how those relationships affect their decisions to purchase products and services.

The most interesting finding in the survey is that consumers in emerging markets—which it calls Rapid Growth Economies—are much more likely than their counterparts in Europe and the United States to trust socially responsible brands, switch their business to support them, and agree that social purpose and profit can go hand in hand.

To explain the purpose gap between emerging and established economies, I called up Carol Cone, who heads Edelman’s Business and Social purpose practice, and Robin Bruce, one of the practice’s supervisors. Both worked on the study and have a few hypotheses.

Older people aren’t as purposeful.
“The U.S. and Europe are aging rapidly,” Bruce says. An older workforce grew up at a time when business and social good weren’t seen as partners—indeed, social good and business often found themselves at loggerheads. Older people with fixed incomes may be less likely to “invest” in products or services that include social good and cost more as a result.

Consumers in emerging markets are closer to many of the problems that socially conscious companies tackle.
“A lot of the consumers who are entering the middle class in those economies… want to use that extra margin in their lives to benefit those causes that they’re more familiar with,” Cone says. “In Brazil, they’ve come out of the favelas, they know that education is a means to a better quality of life.”

Consumers in developed countries expect all companies to meet—and governments to enforce—high standards.
In emerging markets, these expectations are just setting in, giving purposeful companies an advantage among knowledgeable consumers. The brand loyalty numbers have really plummeted in China, there have been a lot of really bad actors with companies treating their employees poorly or they’ve got ingredients in food that are just cutting corners,” Cone says; this state of affairs forces consumers to be extra conscious of purpose. “We’re not calling them consumers, we’re calling them citizen consumers, they’re utilizing social media and they’re really investigating what the company stands for.”

In developing countries, disillusionment with institutions is at an all-time high.
Maybe citizens in developed countries are looking more to themselves than companies for purpose. “In the U.S., for the first time ever, ‘people like me’ surpassed ‘government’ and ‘business’ [as sources of solutions] to address social issues,” Bruce says. It’s possible that people have lower expectations of business because they have lower expectations of most organizations. Instead, they are looking to themselves and their fellow citizens to make a difference.

Recessions make us selfish.
"The two numbers that were down were volunteering and donating, and we absolutely correlate them to the recession," Cone says. “People are still concerned, rightly so, about either getting a job or staying in a job, they just have less time and they have less money to give.” While the United States remains one of the wealthiest economies in the world, compared to pre-recession life or the current growth rates in the emerging market economies, some American consumers feel like their opportunities are diminishing more than they are expanding.

Some of these hypotheses reflect temporary conditions, others demographic reality, still others cultural influence. It’s reassuring to see that rising economies are equating social impact with good business, but disappointing to see countries that are trying to figure out the next step forward losing faith in business’ ability to affect change. One bright spot? The main factors influencing developed economies’ attitude toward purposeful business—the recession and an aging population—are expected to change in coming years. The bigger problem—the mistrust of major institutions in developed countries—remains a challenge to be solved.

Articles
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet