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Businesses are being put under a social microscope, survey finds

By Mario Cywinski |

Each day, every individual must be socially responsible for their actions. However, up until recently many businesses were not held to the same standards. With increasing attention being paid to how companies run their day-to-day operations, the public is widely influenced by a company's ethics.

In turn, trust, corporate ethics and a good reputation are the most important factors for consumers when deciding what companies to buy from, according to a new survey.

Interestingly, it may takes years for a company to establish a solid trust level with its consumers, but it may take only one bad decision or action to destroy the trust, said the TNS Canadian Facts survey.

Something as little as hearing negative news regarding the company can cause consumers to look elsewhere.

To keep the trust level up, businesses must make sure they pay attention to factors such as, reputation, price, value, and most important, customer service.

"Companies are increasingly going to be held accountable not only for the quality and price of their products and services, but also for the corporate citizenship and environmental stewardship of their business as a whole, as these are key components of a company's reputation," said Richard Jenkins, vice-president of TNS Canadian Facts and its corporate director of public opinion research.

Lately, a larger emphasis is being placed on corporate responsibility by the consumer, telling them to be more green and socially responsible. The survey found that over 33 per cent of Canadians have recommended green products to a friend, while 28 per cent said they will not buy products from companies with poor reputations.

"While consumers are rarely willing to reward good corporate citizens by paying a premium for their products and services, companies that practice social responsibility and good corporate citizenship clearly offer a positive point of differentiation in an increasingly fragmented market," said Jenkins.

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