BOSTON: Consumers are actively choosing brands that show strong social responsibility credentials, and believe advertisers should engage with social issues, a new global survey has indicated.

The Global CR Opportunity Study, a joint project from Cone Communications and Echo Research, shows that 81% of consumers believe companies "have a responsibility" to address "key" issues.

Cone and Echo conducted the study among consumers and "thought leaders" in key global markets including the US, UK, Germany, Japan and all four BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Almost all respondents (94%) said they would choose a brand "associated with a good cause" over one that was not, provided the price and quality of the two products were about the same.

Elsewhere, just 6% of consumers said that businesses were accountable for making money, and nothing else.

The most popular social issue for brands to engage with was economic development, cited by 34% of respondents, while 21% wanted firms to take action on the environment and 12% on human rights issues.

"We anticipated some interest in responsible business within this sample," the report stated.

"What we got was a groundswell."

The report also urged global brands to recognise nuances in national markets.

For example, there is a relatively high level of scepticism about CSR in the UK, compared to more positive attitudes in fast-growth economies such as Brazil and China.

Dan Soulas, managing director of Echo Research, said: "Companies should realise their corporate responsibility strategies need to be customized based on geography."

"In practice, this means having a broad vision to guide the core principles of engagement, but adapting them at the market level, which requires an in-depth understanding of what will motivate consumers in that locale."

Data sourced from Cone/Echo; additional content by Warc staff