NEW DELHI: A majority of Indian consumers favour brands boasting strong corporate social responsibility credentials, new research has found.

Lowe Lintas, the agency, partnered with MSN, a unit of Microsoft, and Cross-Tab, the research firm, to survey over 2,000 adults, drawn from major cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.

Overall, 93% of the panel stated companies must pursue CSR activities, with 63% agreeing education was an issue of particular importance, and 60% affording the environment a similar status.

An additional 61% of the sample believed that programmes in this area should primarily be related to the communities living in countries where firms traded.

Seeking to change popular behaviour was preferred by 44% of interviewees, while 22% cited raising awareness of social problems, staff volunteering hit 18%, and cash donations posted 10%.

One benefit from implementing formal schemes with a social and ecological focus was boosting customer loyalty, as 57% of contributors trusted these brands more than their less active rivals.

Elsewhere, 58% of those polled considered it legitimate for companies to feature such initiatives in their marketing campaigns.

For 56% of shoppers, buying brands with a strong ethical positioning broadly equated to being socially responsible as an individual.

Upon selecting the reasons why organisations engage in CSR schemes, 65% of consumers thought it was mainly a means for firms to enhance their reputations.

A further 22% suggested it helped companies improve their marketing programmes, measured against 25% concurring that these initiatives were undertaken based on genuine conviction.

The operators which received praise from the panel included Tata Tea and Tata Steel, part of the same conglomerate, alongside Wipro, the technology group, and The Times of India, a daily newspaper.

"CSR can be a real force as a strategic and competitive branding tool among consumers - and it offers great leverage in building authentic communication platforms for brands," Sabyasachi Mishra, chief growth officer at Lowe Lintas, said.

Data sourced from exchange4media; additional content by Warc staff