Great products alone aren’t enough to guarantee sales. As it turns out, there’s a heightened expectation for companies to take a stand on social and environmental issues if they plan to win the hearts of consumers, according to a recent study by FleishmanHillard.

The study, which analyzed insights from consumers in six countries as well as their experiences and expectations with more than 300 companies across nearly 30 industries, explored what role consumers in different parts of the world believe companies should take in addressing societal, political and business challenges.

According to the study, consumers globally said that less than half of their perceptions regarding a company (47 percent) are shaped by the benefits of its products and services. Instead, the majority of those perceptions (53 percent) are shaped by how management behaves and how that company impacts society.

Authenticity GapConsumers said less than half (47 percent) other their perceptions of a company are shaped by its products and services. More than half (53 percent) of what makes up their beliefs about a company are attributes related to how a company behaves and impacts society.

Two-thirds of consumers (66 percent) said they want companies to demonstrate greater positive societal impact than their competitors, and 69 percent said it’s more important for brands to talk about their societal and environmental impact than mere product benefits when launching a new product or service.

When presented with more than 20 issues, improved data security and privacy topped the list of issues consumers most expect companies to actively address, followed by a commitment to protecting the environment / addressing climate change, aiding income and wage gaps and addressing the minimum wage.

About three-quarters of consumers (73 percent) want companies to enact data protection practices that go beyond regulatory mandates, and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said they’re less likely to support companies that use data for their own benefit. Nearly half (47 percent) said they want companies to create solutions that reduce the impact on climate change, and 42 percent said they wanted to know about how companies are both taking care of employees and the health and wellbeing of their customers. 

About three-quarters of global consumers also said they don’t care about a CEO’s personal beliefs, but expect them to take a stand on issues that have an impact on their company’s customers (74 percent), their products and services (72 percent) and their employees (71 percent).

FleishmanHillard’s “Authenticity Gap” study surveyed 7,364 “engaged” adult consumers in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, U.K. and the U.S. between April and May. The survey was conducted by FH’s intelligence unit, TRUE Global Intelligence.