The 5 Most Socially Responsible Brands

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What is it that truly drives consumers to choose certain brands over others? Things like packaging and advertisements play a role, but new research indicates that a company’s public persona plays a big role, as well.

Market research firm lab42 recently released its findings relating to consumer perception and social responsibility, and there were some interesting results. The main discovery was that an overwhelming percentage of the population — 80 percent, to be precise — believe that corporations should strive to be more socially responsible. It was also found that people generally feel that companies are doing better than they were, with 57 percent saying that businesses in general are more socially responsible today than they were three years ago.

Perhaps the most important tidbit was that a whopping 84 percent of people asked said that they would be willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that conduct themselves in a socially responsible manner.

The important caveat in all of this is how, exactly, people define “socially responsible.” From lab42‘s data, a third of people actually weren’t sure how to define it. However, when they were given a definition by which to work off, 80 percent agreed that businesses should aim to achieve higher standards. Researchers also narrowed down the top three ways in which consumers actually come to view companies as socially responsible: offering high-quality products, being fair and friendly to their employees, and being environmentally friendly.

Customers are also bringing their beliefs with them while shopping — 44 percent now actively boycott certain brands because of opposing social views, and 61 percent because of political views. When it’s all said and done, being socially responsible in the eyes of consumers has been found to be immensely important in today’s business climate.

From its research, lab42 was able to determine five of the top brands that people deem socially responsible. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they plan on buying more products from these companies simply because of their ethical behavior and the way they conduct themselves.

From lab42‘s research, here are the five most socially responsible brands, in no particular order.

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Walgreens, the far-reaching and popular drug store chain, has a long history of social responsibility through charitable efforts and giving back to the community. The company has a handful of different programs to help those in need, including a flu shot program and an educational foundation, in which employees donate time to help children in need. Walgreens also uses a charity choice program to allow employees to donate to four distinct organizations that promote health and wellness. On top of all that, the company has put a lot of work into becoming more diverse and environmentally friendly.

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When you think of social responsibility, Coca-Cola may not be the first company that comes to mind. But over the years, the company has evolved to become one of the world’s leaders in areas such as sustainability and instituting environmentally business practices along its supply chain. Along with those changes, Coke has helped strategize and develop new methods to ensure waterways remain clean and useful through its water stewardship program; it has also focused efforts on being an asset to local communities.

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As if you haven’t heard Apple’s name in the news enough lately, the company is making the world a better place through its corporate responsibility initiatives, and not just its products. Apple has invested considerable resources in helping employees throughout its supply chain develop new skills and is working toward educating workers about their rights. Naturally, the company has a lot of dirty laundry to take care of, particularly when it comes to the manufacturing of its products. But recent efforts to clean things up seemingly have paid off, as Apple has polished its brand considerably in the eyes of consumers.

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Whole Foods

Probably the least surprising entry on the list, Whole Foods has done an awful lot to help promote sustainable business practices and healthy eating. The fact is, no other company had really taken the approach to business Whole Foods has on such a large scale, and it’s finding that consumers are buying in. Whole Foods lists among its core values respect and support for employees, a dedication to supplying high-quality products, and support for advancing environmental stewardship.

In fact, the company even lists a “statement of higher purpose” on its website, which reads as follows: “With great courage, integrity and love — we embrace our responsibility to co-create a world where each of us, our communities and our planet can flourish.”

If there is a poster child for corporate social responsibility, Whole Foods may be it.

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Along with Apple, Google is blazing a trail toward social responsibility in the tech sector, and in a large way. The company has led the way in many areas of corporate responsibility, including making changes to help the environment and battle global climate change. The company has done work in China through a number of social initiatives in order to teach responsibility and self-empowerment, and even has a Google Grants program that promotes several causes, from animal rights to literacy. In addition to all of that, Google employees spend thousands of hours volunteering to help educate America’s youth in science, technology, engineering, and math. All told, Google is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to improving communities across the globe.

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