Nielsen: Most global, socially conscious consumers consult social media when making purchasing decisions

NEW YORK — A new survey from Nielsen is hoping to shed light on the world's socially conscious consumers, who are those that are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that implement programs designed to give back to society.

According to the company's Global Corporate Citizenship survey — which pooled responses from more than 28,000 Internet users in 56 countries from Aug. 31, 2011 to Sept. 16, 2011 — showed that 46% of those surveyed are considered global, socially conscious consumers. Among them, nearly two-thirds (63%) are under 40 years old.

"It's clear that corporate social responsibility efforts resonate with a specific group of consumers," said Nic Covey, VP of Nielsen Cares, Nielsen's global corporate social responsibility program. "Marketers need to know who those consumers are in order to maximize the social and business return of their cause marketing efforts. This understanding allows brands to engage in social impact efforts that appeal to the right consumers with the right causes and through the right channels.

One crucial thing these consumers had in common, Nielsen said, was their increased likeliness to consult social media to help make purchase decisions (59% versus 46% of all respondents). Additionally, when it comes to brands and advertising, global, socially conscious consumers said they trusted recommendations from people they know (95%) and looked for opinions and information posted by other consumers online (76%).

"In order for cause marketing efforts to affect sales, customers must first be aware of a company's efforts," Covey added. "Nielsen's information indicates that social media is a critical tool for effective cause marketing."

It is important to note, however, that the geography for this demographic reaches far and wide. Nielsen found that more than half of those in the Asia Pacific region (55%), followed by the Middle East and Africa (53%) and Latin America (49%) are more willing to pay extra for products and services from socially responsible companies than consumers in North America (35%) and Europe (32%). And among 18 causes reviewed, Nielsen found that respondents were most concerned about environmental (66%), educational (56%) and hunger causes (53%) for companies implementing programs.