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A recent study looking at consumers and socially responsible spending has resulted in some interesting findings. Perhaps the most important is that shoppers want to buy from socially responsible companies (32% of Americans plan to spend more with companies they see as being socially responsible) but they don’t necessarily follow through (73% in the current year vs. 76% in the year before), largely due to a lack sufficient information about their options (46% said that not knowing where to find socially responsible products and services prevented them from making such purchases). Moreover, of the top 20 companies and organizations named as being particularly socially responsible, only a handful are actual social enterprises. Others are companies such as Walmart, Target and GE, who have had a questionable track record when it comes to socially conscious business.
On the bright side, results for the % of respondents who plan on spending money on socially conscious products, respondents who understand the importance of buying from socially responsible companies, and respondents important to recycle and buy reusable products and to reduce consumption have all seen marginal increases over the last few years.
The issue seems to lie in the fact that many social enterprises are unable to connect with consumers in a way that drives the behavior they say they want. This involves a need for education in a manner that draws the attention of consumers, while giving them the facts.
As the author of a Forbes article on a similar topic points out: “Social entrepreneurs: You have your work cut out for you.”