Friday, October 19, 2007

Will customers pay more to do good?

From Slate:

...These days, everyone from big oil to Wal-Mart claims to be jumping on Ben & Jerry's bandwagon. Corporate America is busy announcing charitable-giving programs, releasing sustainability reports, and otherwise going all-out to demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility. And so it's worth asking, does it pay for corporations to be nice?

...We already know from surveys that consumers claim to prefer to eat their ice cream and wear their T-shirts free from the guilt that someone may have suffered for their consumerist pleasures. Or, if they don't care about ethics for their own sake, many people believe that conscientious companies are more likely to make high-quality, reliable products. (The people running these companies would presumably feel guilty about doing otherwise.)

...The ABC experiment seems to confirm the sales benefit of Ben & Jerry's approach to business. But there's a big caveat here. As anyone who has ever paid a visit to ABC Carpet knows, its customers are not normal people....MORE