October 21, 2009
Consumers Are Using New Media to Engage with Companies on Issues of Corporate Responsibility
by Robert Kropp
Survey by Cone finds that an increasing number of American new media users are using online outlets
in efforts to influence corporate decision-making.
A recent survey of American new media users found that 44% "are searching for, sharing or
discussing information about corporate responsibility (CR) efforts and programs" via such outlets
as social networks, blogs, and online games. The survey, undertaken by Cone, a brand strategy and communications agency, sought
consumer responses in the areas of brand marketing and cause branding, as well as CR.
Seventy-eight percent of new media users reported
interacting with companies online, up from 59% in 2008. Thirty-eight percent reported doing so at
least once a week, compared to 25% in 2008.
Sixty-two percent of respondents to the survey
indicated that they believe they can influence corporate decision-making through participation in
new media outlets. Twenty-four percent reported that they have contributed to online discussions
about CR, and 23% have contacted companies directly. Three-quarters of respondents "expect
companies to join conversations about their corporate responsibility practices happening on new
Forty-seven percent believe that companies are transparent and honest in
addressing CR efforts online. The online venues most often accessed for the purpose of learning
about CR efforts were email (27%) and corporate web sites (22%). The findings suggest that
opportunities for more interactive venues such as social networks and blogs have yet to be
"Consumers are using new media channels to inform purchase decisions, yet are
not always stopping to participate in dialogue," said Jonathan Yohannan, senior vice president of
corporate responsibility at Cone. "There is an opportunity to engage them beyond
information-seeking behavior to build a relationship that can be mutually beneficial for both
consumers and companies."
Over 80% of respondents want companies to communicate their CR
efforts via new media in several areas. Consumers want companies to provide information about their
products and how they are mad, and want additional information about product claims made through
advertising and labeling. Consumers also want companies to provide forums in which concerns over
business practices can be voiced, and to use new media to report on environmental and social
Respondents also indicated that they wanted corporate online presences to include
open dialogues with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and government agencies, as well as
advocacy for social and environmental issues.
The 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study was
conducted online in September, and included a representative sample of 1,048 adults in the US. Of
that number, 587 identified themselves as users of new media resources. The margin of error
associated with the sample size is ± 5%.
SRI World Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.