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Brands for a better world: New study ranks quality-focused US brands that are contributing to a healthier planet—who’s leading?

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Public Relations

Product quality and a fair price will always be important to consumers, but those age-old metrics are no longer the only horses in the race. Today’s consumers, especially the fast-rising and deep-pocketed Gen Z sector, want to know what your brand is doing to help make the world a better place—and this is a key factor in whether they will do business with you. 

New research  from professional services firm PA Consulting finds US consumers are looking for brands to be a catalyst for a better world, with 70 percent expecting them to be responsible for building a healthier planet. However, the firm’s Brand Impact Index 2024 survey also affirms that for brands to perform well with consumers, they must first focus on product innovation, quality, customer service, and experience.

Brands for a better world

The survey of 7,000 US consumers shows that:

  • While 84 percent of US consumers are disappointed with the current state of the world, 74 percent believe that brands have a crucial role to play in driving positive change.
  • 80 percent expect brands to demonstrate their commitment to people and profits.
  • And more than half of US consumers (55 percent) only buy from brands that make a positive impact in the world.

Consumers ranked brands based on whether they create a better future, and how much they would recommend them. Dawn was ranked as the top-performing brand and was scored highly for its approach to innovation, where it has produced products designed to be easier to use, and that save water and energy. Consumers also recognized the brand’s sustainability work, as demonstrated through its partnership with wildlife organizations to clean animals affected by oil pollution.

In addition to delivering dependable products and services, these brands deeply understand their customers, make consumers feel good about doing business with them, and innovate to continue satisfying demand.

“Great brands are so much more than commodities; they are catalysts for change,” said Jorge Aguilar, growth strategy expert at PA Consulting, in a news release. “In an era of disillusionment and disruption, the brands most favored by consumers are those offering hope for a better future.”

Brands for a better world

The research findings also show that:

The highest performing brands have strong loyalty among consumers

About 8 in 10 (79 percent) are more likely to try new products, services, and experiences from them; 78 percent are more likely to consider them the only option; and 75 percent are more likely to be willing to pay a premium for these brands.

Among the highest-ranking brand categories are household and personal care products that satisfy hygiene needs, and sports brands that build community

Ranking low are social media platforms, media and broadcasting organizations, and dating apps. Millennials hold the highest expectations for brands (even above Gen Z), while Baby Boomers hold somewhat lower expectations.

Innovation is highly important for consumers

Top performers here included Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung. The categories seen to be underperforming were financial services, connectivity and utilities, and dating apps, which were typically scored down for not offering sufficient quality in their products, particularly in digital experiences.

Brands need to focus on sustainable products and services

The highest ranked categories here include wellness, nutrition, and personal care. Surprisingly, another high scoring category is financial services—where forward-thinking brands are acting as conduits for change by helping to funnel investment into sustainable areas. Lowest performing categories include social media and sports as they are typically perceived as falling short of working to create a better world.

When it comes to understanding consumers, the top performing brands tend to come from food, personal care, and homecare

Top brands here include Breyers, Betterment, Lego, Disney, and KitchenAid.

Brands for a better world

Brands for a better world

“Consumers are looking to the brands they love for leadership in creating a world that is more equitable and sustainable,” said Chris Fosdick, growth strategy expert at PA Consulting, in the release. “Dawn is a well-known, familiar, time-tested brand found in many US homes and they are also one of the rare CPG brands that conjures an immediate association with doing something positive in the world. Therefore, it seems fitting for Dawn to be ranked first in the Brand Impact Index.”

Brands for a better world

Download the full report here.

The PA Consulting Brand Impact Index ranks 320 brands across more than 30 industries. PA Consulting commissioned a survey of 7,000 US consumers, reflecting national diversity across age, gender, region, ethnicity, and household income.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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