The 2006 Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) study, which was conducted in March and April across 16 countries, reveals that emerging markets such as Thailand, India, and China rate automotive companies higher in regards to corporate social responsibility than mature markets of the west. The study attributes this to the general public’s high ratings of the automotive sector in emerging markets for generating jobs and improving quality of life.
Chris Bonsi, regional director TNS Automotive explains: “Thailand, India, and China have recorded phenomenal industry growth in the automotive sector and consumers in these markets see automotive companies playing an integral role in the economic and social development of their country. Conversely, the governments of some emerging markets do not fully recognise the contribution of the automotive sector in generating jobs for their country – in some cases, levying high taxes on the automotive sector because the end-products are seen to be luxury items that only a few can afford, without considering the jobs the sector creates for everyday people manufacturing, distributing, and servicing these products.”
Bonsi adds, “For mature markets, consumers rate the automotive sector poorly on job generation and impact on the environment. Therefore, the strategies for corporations in improving their reputation for corporate social responsibility would need to vary depending on market maturity.”
The Global CSR study was conducted by TNS to understand the general public’s perception of the automotive sector in regards to compliance and contribution towards corporate, social, environmental, and philanthropic activities. Consumers were asked to rate corporations from the passenger car, commercial vehicle, motorcycle, tire, and oil sectors. All of the scores were indexed using TNS’ globally recognized TRI*M stakeholder management system with the global average set to 100. Scores above one hundred indicate strong public goodwill towards the corporation.
Among the global automotive corporations, BMW, Honda, Toyota, and Volvo Trucks ranked highest for corporate social responsibility in two or more markets. BMW rated highest in Spain and Italy; Honda for US, UK, and Indonesia, Toyota for Japan, Korea, and Thailand, and Volvo Trucks for Sweden and Netherlands.
Other market leaders globally were Shell in China, Michelin in France, Porsche in Germany, Bharat Petroleum in India, Nissan in Mexico, and Petronas in Malaysia.
The study shows that consumers across the world are very likely to accept or reject a corporation based on its reputation for social and environmental responsibility. Nearly nine out of ten consumers indicated that they were more likely to purchase a product or service from a corporation with responsible business practices while eight of ten indicated that they would refrain from purchasing a product or service if the corporation failed to follow environmentally friendly or ethical business practices.
Rémy Pothet, Global Director TNS Automotive, comments: “Large corporations are increasingly aware that their social responsibility directly affects their image and brand equity – and consequently, their business success. As a result, many are investing heavily in CSR initiatives – particularly in those markets where they are focusing on expansion. The results of our study highlight the public’s growing interest in the field of CSR, and makes a direct link between this and their purchasing behaviour – so supporting the case for investment in CSR. By repeating the study annually, automotive companies can glean vital insight into how their target consumers are viewing their CSR practices, and therefore how these practices are influencing their business success.”
Bonsi concludes, “The general public is a very important stakeholder for the automotive industry as a corporation’s reputation is often judged in the court of public opinion. Corporations that fail to engage society often suffer serious consequences when there is a crisis. However, corporations that develop strong public goodwill can use this as ‘social insurance’ to tide them over during difficult periods. The CSR champions identified by this study are already seeing the value in their investment; now other companies, need to take notice.”
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