NEW YORK: For over a third of the US buying population, aged 18-80, their choice of brand will depend on broader questions around a company’s corporate values, according to new figures.

This is according to a new study from MWWPR, the public relations company, Meet the Corpsumers. This segment makes up “a bigger segment than so many of the segments that brands target – bigger than millennials, bigger than moms,” the firm’s Chief Strategy Officer, Careen Winters, told Adweek.

Indeed, the study suggests that the United States is home to around 100 million such ‘corpsumers,’ who believe that a company’s actions are just as important as their products or services – one third of the country’s population.

While a purpose has been a matter of contention for some time as to its commercial and strategic worth, the study’s audience is more complex. However, if the respondents are being truthful, their commitment to cause could unlock commercial value for brands, with 67% of the segment saying they will pay full price for a product that supports a cause they believe in.

Meanwhile, they are also a vocal bunch: 89% say they would share positive news about brands, and 78% would share negative news. As a result, a company’s conduct is paramount to this segment of consumers, of which 80% feel that a company’s actions as corporate citizens would impact their purchase decisions.

In the U.S., brands have found themselves front and centre in some of this year’s most significant news, and their conduct is more visible than ever. In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last week, companies have been pledging to support the affected regions.

However, other brands have come in for intense criticism as a result of their dynamic pricing models. Airlines have faced criticism for enormous jumps in price for planes out of the affected areas. Amazon’s surge pricing also hiked prices for emergency supplies in the run up to Irma’s landfall in Florida.

While some economists maintain there is a case for ‘price gouging’, the option can be difficult to reconcile with good corporate citizenship.

As Richard Thaler, author of Nudge, noted of surge pricing with regards to ride-hailing app Uber, "if you gouge them at Christmas, they won't come back in February."  While a surge can bring a short-term gain, brands are there for the long term and must understand how they ensure their health throughout the long game.

Data sourced from MWW, Adweek, WARC, Mediapost, New York Times; additional content by WARC staff