Is your company naughty or nice? Consumers want to know before buying

When’s the last time you read consumer reviews about your company, products, or services? What about your environmental record, or the way you treat your employees and suppliers? Are you making the world a better place every day or are you stinking up the joint?

Two recent surveys – one by PowerReviews and another by Bernporad Baranowski Marketing Group – reveal that a business’s environmental and social impacts and the opinion of others play a huge role in the purchasing decisions of a majority of consumers.

Nine out of ten shoppers prefer to buy from environmentally-friendly companies that make or sell energy-efficient, safe, and healthy products and services and that treat their trading partners and employees well.

Sixty-five percent of shoppers said they always read reviews before deciding what to buy and who to buy it from, finding those reviews very or extremely important to their final decision. Seventy-six percent also consult “top rated” product lists.

In a brief distributed this week by the Center for Media Research, BBMG founding partner Raphael Bernporad said “Conscious consumers expect companies to do more than make eco-friendly claims. They demand transparency and accountability across every level of business practice. . . .”

PowerReviews runs a Web site called Buzzillions.com, where almost a million customer reviews have been aggregated. The site lets shoppers compare products by brand name, category, or keywords. Harnessing this “wisdom of crowds” for themselves, retailers like REI and Staples are putting these rankings straight into their customers’ hands in the form of in-store kiosks or printed shelf-cards.

The bottom line: Consumers want to buy products and services that others recommend and from companies that contribute to the greater good. “Bad” companies or those that ignore the importance of bona fides are going to get coal in their stocking, not just during the holiday shopping season but all year round.

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