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Indonesia: Can Brands Keep Up With Consumers Who Want To Do Good?

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Out of all the consumers surveyed in Edelman’s 2012 global goodpurpose® study, Indonesians are among those that care the most about brands’ impact on themselves and society. They are also more likely than the global average to leverage certain technology in addressing social issues, so businesses may want to consider pushing technology when reaching out to Indonesians for Purpose efforts.

By Henry Manampiring

This is the first year that Indonesia has been included in the Edelman goodpurpose® survey. The findings for the country are very much aligned with those of the recently published Trust Barometer 2012, which reveals that the Indonesian public expects corporations to deliver on more than just quality products and services, but also social value.

A collectivist society such as Indonesia means social involvement and responsibility are natural parts of its cultural fabric. This is reflected in the goodpurpose® results, which show that a high number of consumers are personally concerned about causes, e.g. protection of environment (97%), improvement of healthcare quality (92%), poverty reduction (92%), human and civil rights (95%), among others. Seventy percent of Indonesian consumers also say it is equally important to address causes that impact them personally as well as society overall—the highest figure among all countries surveyed.

It is no wonder that Indonesian consumers also expect corporations and brands to do their share as part of society. Ninety-two percent believe it is important for business in general to address social issues (globally, 86%). Unfortunately, only 25% believe business in general has performed well in this regard, which means there is a large opportunity for brands to close the gap.

Involvement in causes may improve consumers’ preference for a brand or company. Eighty-five percent of respondents say they have more trust in a brand that is ethically and socially responsible (significantly higher than the global total of 73%).  Not only do Purpose activities help tip consumers in favor of a brand, it also motivates them to promote the brand to others. Eighty-three percent of respondents are more likely to recommend a brand that supports a cause than one that doesn’t (globally, 72%), and 81% would help a brand promote their products and services if there is a cause behind them (globally, 71%).

Brand involvement in causes is not limited to businesses donating or creating ethically-sound products. As an alternative, brands can also empower consumers so they can be involved in causes themselves. Eighty-two percent of respondents want brands to make it easier for them to make a positive difference in the world. This means companies can be more creative in establishing cause activities. Companies can create “co-contribution” mechanisms whereby consumers actively partake in supporting causes.

However, although Purpose clearly adds value to a brand, it does not automatically mean companies can raise prices. While 86% of respondents are likely to buy products or services from companies that support causes, only 42% are likely to pay a premium because of it. Purpose involvement seems to be a differentiating factor, a positive attribute that can tip the scale against competitors, but not necessarily to gain higher margins off consumers.

Interestingly, Indonesian consumers actually want to hear about companies’ involvement in causes. Eighty-seven percent of respondents say it is important that companies “spread awareness of their efforts to address social issues.” The internet, particularly on mobile platforms, seems to be a very viable channel to help spread the good news. Eighty-two percent of Indonesian consumers claimed to use social media to take part in promoting or addressing social issues at least once a month (globally, 55%), and 76% use mobile phones for such purposes at least annually (globally, 45%).

In closing: Indonesian consumers show appreciation for brands that get involved with Purpose. Brands can also explore different means of involvement, including through consumers themselves. Social media, particularly mobile, provide powerful means for brands to spread awareness of such involvement.

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