Responding to what consumers care about, in terms of both internal working practices and recognising external concerns, can boost businesses, two recent studies suggest.

JUST Capital, a not-for-profit advocating a better form of capitalism, partnered with Forbes to rank the 1,000 largest publicly traded US corporations on the issues Americans care about most, based on responses from 81,000 people on what they most want to see from such businesses.

The poll came up with seven areas: pay workers fairly; treat customers well and protect their privacy; produce quality products; minimize their environmental impact; give back to the communities they operate in; commit to ethical and diverse leadership; and create abundant job opportunities.

On those criteria, Microsoft came top, followed by Intel, Alphabet, Texas Instruments and IBM; Procter& Gamble stood out as the sole FMCG brand in the top ten, in seventh place.

In addition to performing significantly better in these seven areas, those businesses in the JUST 100 list of top companies could boast a 5% higher return on equity than the rest – indicating that there are real business benefits from acting on social concerns.

Last week consulting firm Accenture painted a similar picture, with research showing that nearly two-thirds of consumers globally (63%) prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs – and are ditching those that don’t.

“Purpose is more than companies simply responding to issues of the day,” said Bill Theofilou, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy. “It’s about having a genuine and meaningful commitment to important principles that consumers care about – such as health and wellbeing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and family connections – which inform every business decision.”

He suggested that over the past decade brands have been so focused on using digital technologies that they have lost sight of the bigger picture.

“Reach and engagement have become so important to many of them that they have underestimated other integral factors that make consumers attracted to their brand in the first place – namely purpose,” he told Brandchannel.

Sourced from JUST Capital, Forbes, Accenture; additional content by WARC staff