To get the public's view on the economics of kindness, Baringa commissioned a global survey to understand how perceptions of kindness affect purchasing decisions.
We learned these decisions are made on more than price and service alone. This is a crucial insight for business leaders: when setting strategies, firms should increasingly consider kindness alongside more traditional concerns such as price.
A company's behaviour is one of the factors consumers weigh up when buying products or services.
"In a connected age where the consequences of business decisions are instantly transmitted worldwide, people are faster to make moral judgements about firms, and to act on those judgements."
Guy Dent, partner, expert in Products and Services at Baringa
Kindness in a downturn
When wallets get stretched, consumers continue to value kindness.
Across the board, a majority of consumers said they were willing to choose a kind company even where there was a financial penalty for doing so.
If a company were known to have the following attributes, how would that make you respond to the company?
|I would avoid buying their product or service if the price was the same||I would avoid buying their product or service even if the price was cheaper||I would not avoid buying their product or service|
|They were known to treat their suppliers poorly||45%||52%||12%|
|They were known to treat their staff poorly||44%||53%||12%|
|Their customer service is notoriously poor||45%||51%||12%|
|They behave in a dishonest way towards customers*||44%||56%||10%|
|They were known to be involved in cruel behaviour with animals||45%||55%||12%|
|They have acted unethically towards the communities in which they operate||43%||54%||12%|
|They had recently laid off large numbers of staff||40%||41%||25%|
*such as charging hidden fees, or employing misleading information or forceful behaviour
"The assumption is that when times get tough, 'ethical' choices become a luxury and people make decisions based on price. But the increased awareness of unkind business practices might be changing this. As we head into a possible recession, we are seeing more people prepared to take a financial hit to choose kind firms, often in an act of solidarity."
Guy Dent, partner, expert in Consumer Products and Services at Baringa
The international picture
When asked to what extent they consider factors often associated with “kindness” when making a purchase, consumers from the Netherlands consistently the least likely to weigh up a firm's kindness before purchasing.
"Dutch consumer behaviours can be different from those of other nations. Our donations to charity barely dip in tough economic times. We top the charts in terms of unpaid volunteer work. But on the other hand, as regards the private sector, the Dutch quickly adjust spending, with price trumping everything else."
Marcel Volkerts, expert in energy networks at Baringa
When asked to what extent they consider factors often associated with “kindness” when making a purchase, consumers from the USA were consistently the most likely to weigh up a firm's kindness before purchasing.
"Since its inception the USA has been an activist country. We have a cultural assumption that individuals have the power to make change happen, and this makes American consumers more likely to see and consider the consequences and choices in our individual purchases."
Jeff Hartigan, partner, expert in Consumer Products and Services at Baringa.
The research was conducted by independent market research consultancy, Censuswide. The survey was conducted online with 6,028 employed consumers who have either a pension or some kind of investment in Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK or the US, between 26.04.2023 - 04.05.2023. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society, which is based on the ESOMAR principles, and are members of the British Polling Council.
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Partner, expert in Energy and ResourcesContact Anya
Partner, expert in Energy and ResourcesContact Ellen
Partner, expert in Products and ServicesContact Guy
Partner, expert in Consumer Products and RetailContact Jeffrey
Expert in Energy NetworksContact Marcel