The first survey in India on consumer attitudes towards CSR has been conducted by Lowe Lintas India with the help of research agency Cross-Tab and MSN India. The study had over 2000 respondents primarily from Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Sabyasachi Mishra, Chief Growth Office at Lowe Lintas India, said, “CRS 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. ”

The finding of the survey are:

CSR is no longer nice to do but a must do – 93% of the respondents said that they believe corporates must do CSR.

CSR is not just about acting good, it is about being good! When asked what CSR meant to them, 61% of the respondents opined that CSR is about a company’s role in/ or responsibility towards the society in which they operate. Respondents felt that companies should give back to the community to compensate for their use of social resources. Importantly, respondents felt that companies needed to use social resources sustainably so that future generations too could use these resources.

The Indian consumer has no illusions – CSR is about reputation building. When asked why corporates do CSR, 65% of the respondents felt that the main motivation for corporates to do CSR was to build their reputation. 22% stated that CSR was undertaken to help corporates market their products better. Only 25% believed that CSR was done because corporates believe in it.

CSR helps brands build trust – 57% of respondents trusted brands that do CSR more than brands that don’t.

CSR helps build preference: In a situation where all things are equal, respondents prefer companies that do CSR to those that don’t.

Consumers see CSR as an acceptable marketing tool – 58% of the respondents felt that it is acceptable for companies to use social initiatives for marketing.

Consumers willing to support social initiatives by proxy – 56% of the respondents felt that supporting a brand that does CSR is as good as being socially responsible themselves.

Stakeholders vote for more involved, fundamental change – When asked to rank causes on levels of importance, Education (63%) and Environment (60%) were the two most highly rated causes. These are indicative of the interests in topics that cause fundamental, widespread change.

It’s not just about being philanthropic, consumers quite clearly see a larger role for companies in the society – When asked to suggest the best form of support a corporate can give a cause, the answers primarily favoured programs that change peoples’ behaviour (44%) followed by building awareness of social problems (22%). Donating money and volunteering employees’ time did not get much support with scores of 10% and 18% respectively.

Brands that have made a mark through their CSR – Companies that received high recall for CSR activities were Wipro’s Azim Premji Foundation, Infosys, Tata Tea – Jaago Re, Tata Steel and Times of India for the Teach India initiative.