Consumer expectations regarding Ethical Behavior by Companies and associated trust issues

An article in the Sustainable Brand newsletter (http://tinyurl.com/companytrust) describes a study by Princeton Survey Research Associates that claims that 96% expect companies to behave ethically, 90% expect a focus on protecting the environment and 76% expect companies to limit their environmental damage. However, 10% of the consumers expect that companies can be trusted to do the right thing.  The article suggests use of social media to communicate the message regarding steps companies are taking to be more responsible.  Should companies take deliberate steps to highlight that they have earned consumer trust and make ethical choices ? Should one expect these steps to be aligned with profit motives in the long run or expect these steps to decrease profitability ? How should companies ensure that ethical practices are propagated across the supply chain ?

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One Response to Consumer expectations regarding Ethical Behavior by Companies and associated trust issues

  1. Yang Liu says:

    The article shows both the high expectation and low trust of the customers about companies’ ethical behaviors. Under this situation, many companies did do something to highlight their ethical choices deliberately. If you enter the public website of a company, especially these big famous ones, there is always be a space called “social responsibility” or something similar. It seems to be a good way to build up goodwill and manage their brand with a positive impression. And the corresponding logic seems to be: More ethical reporting, more goodwill, more consumer trust and then more revenue. However, as one of the customers, I have doubts on that: Did the company just report what is good and hide what may be wrong? If all the ethical behaviors are true, did the company add the extra cost by doing those things on us? The latter doubt becomes stronger especially when I see companies doing so-called social responsibility activities less related with their main business.
    As a kind of organization in pursue of profit, all the activities should serve for companies’ interests. So do their ethical behaviors. Without positive expectation in long term, I believe few companies are willing to invest so much in the social parts. Reasonably, I agree with their choice but reserve my opinion on their implements. Instead of doing extra work less related to their business, trying to offering best service and most value to customers could be more realistic. As for how to present their ethical behaviors, a standard report given by the third part of a certain industry earns more trust from me. Sometimes, we just want to know the truth and then give the trust. Any exaggeration using media power could have the contrary effects and cause extra cost.

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