Consumers have higher-than-average expectations from food retailers, tech companies and the fashion industry when it comes to corporate social responsibility, according to a new study from B2B research, ratings and reviews firm Clutch.
Food and tech tied at the top of list, with 70 percent of respondents saying that those industries should commit to CSR. Fashion (65 percent), health and beauty (64 percent), restaurants (62 percent), sports (55 percent) and travel (52 percent) were all seen as having an obligation to follow socially responsible policies by more than half of respondents.
The study found that the personal connections consumers form with the food, tech and fashion industries are linked with the high degree of responsibility expected from them. “With food, you're putting those things in your body,” Jen Bemisderfer, managing director of Seattle-based RH Strategic, told the researchers. “With clothing, you're wearing it on your body or next to your body. It might seem that technology wouldn't fit along these lines, but we treat smartphones today as an extension of ourselves.”
Which industries should commit to corporate social responsibility?
For consumers who expect a CSR commitment from the food industry, the top thing they’re looking for is a willingness by those companies to help feed the local community (67 percent). Supporting local farmers (48 percent), sponsoring local events (40 percent) and selling non-GMO foods were all voiced as concerns.
Those who want more social responsibility from the tech industry put protecting data privacy (72 percent) as their top priority. Keeping the internet open source (69 percent) and sharing data when needed (39 percent) also ranked highly.
Using ethically-sourced materials (58 percent) was the top request from respondents who desired a social commitment from the fashion industry. Never using sweatshop labor (53 percent) and making use of recycled materials (48 percent) were close behind.
The study authors say that the survey responses indicate that there is no “one size fits all” solution to how companies exercise CSR in the marketplace. “The variables that make business unique,” they wrote, “offer unique windows of opportunity for corporate social responsibility.”
The Clutch study surveyed 420 consumers who have made a purchase either in-store or online in the past six months—35 percent of them Millennials, 48 percent Gen Xers and 16 percent Baby Boomers.