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Iowa Companies Can Find Success with "Doing Good"

IMAGE: Research indicates a company's efforts to be socially responsible make a difference to consumers, particularly those younger than 40. Image credit: John Michaelson.
IMAGE: Research indicates a company's efforts to be socially responsible make a difference to consumers, particularly those younger than 40. Image credit: John Michaelson.
September 29, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - It might not be enough to make a good product and practice a solid business strategy these days. Consumers want their companies to be good for people and the planet, too.

A Nielsen survey found that 55 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to social responsibility. Kevin Paul Scott, owner of the brand consulting firm ADDO Worldwide, said there are demographic considerations, too.

"Especially as you look at a younger audience, the millennial age group," he said, "they are choosing companies to do business with the way that previous generations chose charities."

In the past, Scott said, showing loyalty to a company had to do with demonstrating who we are, but now an increasing number of consumers want to share what they're about.

"Now it's not just a status symbol," he said, "but by wearing this brand, or doing business with this company, I'm telling other people what I value."

Scott cited ways to judge a company on its corporate "citizenship." Among them is to see if it is certified as a "B Corp." (Benefit Corporation). That designation assures consumers that a company maintains corporate accountability. There are 450 certified Benefit Corporations in the world, and in Iowa they include the National Cooperative Grocers Association and Eco Lips Inc.

The Nielsen study is online at nielsen.com. Details about B Corps are at bcorporation.net.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA