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Why your brand’s behaviour is as important as the quality of your product for your customer’s purchasing decisions

Recent research from MWWPR has identified a new and important customer segment which represents one in four of the UK population. This is a demographic who is educated, influential and cares deeply about the ethical behaviour of companies.

As MMWPR’s UK managing director Rebecca Blinston-Jones says, “ A CorpSumer is someone who believes that a company’s values, reputation and what it stands for are as important as its products and they have purchased products or services because of this belief multiple times.”

Importantly for brands, CorpSumers are not only making decisions for themselves, but they are influencing others in their circle about everything from products and current events to cultural issues and politics. The full UK CorpSumer research can be downloaded here

How do the beliefs of CorpSumers influence their buying behaviour?

MMWPR’s research suggests that CorpSumers are loyal, but with a twist; they are twice as likely to stick or switch brands than the average consumer. MWWPR's Blinston-Jones says: “They place high value on a company’s values and reputation, and all CorpSumers report that reputational factors including corporate citizenship (98%), employee well-being (97%), and opinions of leadership (94%) directly impact their purchasing decisions.”

How can brands earn the support of CorpSumers?

CorpSumers actively support brands that take a stand on societal issues and matters of public policy, even if they don’t agree with you.

MWWPR's  Blinston-Jones says: “93% prefer that companies take a stand, and 84% prefer they do so even if they don’t agree with the brand’s position on an issue.”

According to MWPR’s research, CorpSumers consider all aspects of corporate reputation when making purchasing decisions:

  • Corporate citizenship – 98% agree good corporate citizenship or social responsibility impacts purchase decisions. Brands need to define what they want to be known for.

  • Treatment of employees – 97% agree how a company treats its employees impacts purchase decision. Brands should empower their employees to tell their stories and serve as ambassadors.

  • Opinion of company leadership – 94% agree opinions of the CEO and leadership team impacts purchase decisions. Brands need to decide if their CEO should have more of an external profile, and if so, what his or her point of view is on relevant societal, environmental or public policy issues”.

How influential are CorpSumers?

Corpsumers are very influential and they present an opportunity to build a consumer relationship that can impact a company’s bottom line.

In particular, their loyalty can result in a high lifetime value as they are twice as likely to stick with or switch brands than the average consumer. More than half of UK CorpSumers report to either sticking with a company whose products or services they weren’t satisfied with, or switching from one company to another because they supported efforts made by the company.  

MWWPR’s  Blinston-Jones point out that, “85% of the UK’s more than 16 million CorpSumers report talking to friends, family and colleagues about these topics at least a few times a month with 71% reporting that they have actively encouraged others to buy a product.”

If CorpSumers believe in a brand they become staunch advocates, but vocal detractors when their trust is broken. However, what makes the CorpSumer different from the general population is the fact that they act, basing behaviours -- and their spending -- on corporate reputation.

Is there a danger that CorpSumers will see company purpose as the new greenwashing?

First there was CSR and now there is company purpose: there is a danger that brands are perceived by consumers to greenwash issues that they really do care about, especially in the increasingly cynical media environment in which we live.

However, the rise in CEO activism globally along with increasing advocacy on societal issues by consumers creates an opportunity for brands to earn consumer trust, loyalty and advocacy by taking a public stance on important policy and societal matters.

Blinston-Jones says: “While CorpSumers overwhelmingly report that they don’t have to agree with your stance, they do have suspicions about company motives and seek authenticity when brands take a stand. CorpSumers have provided a clear prescription about what matters to them and motivates them to act – corporate citizenship, treatment of employees and their opinion of a company’s leadership.”

Has social media made CorpSumerism more mainstream, or perhaps just more vocal?

Social media is the most utilised and most trusted resource for information on companies that CorpSumers would consider when buying products or services, and it is also a key channel for advocacy and activism. Nearly three-quarters of CorpSumers are likely to share positive and negative information about a company in person or on social media.

However, Blinston-Jones points out that: “When company trust is breached, the majority of CorpSumers would unfollow the company on social media (81%), or post or share content speaking out against the company (71%).”

From a planning perspective, how difficult are CorpSumers to target?

MWWPR’s research suggests that CorpSumers are a pretty diverse bunch, they represent a larger target audience than millennials, mums, and many other segments that brands are targeting today. CorpSumers cross all generations and are increasingly prevalent in each younger generation. They are well-educated, employed and are the high-income earners for their age group. They are more likely than the general population to be parents, and either Gen Z or millennials.

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