October 25, 2022

2022 Corporate Social Value Index

By Milos Bujisic, PhD, Michael Diamond, and Jennifer Scott, DPhil

  • Brand Social Value and Purpose Become Greater Drivers of Consumer Purchase Decisions and Loyalty than Traditional Product Attributes and Offerings
  • NYU SPS Study Shows Toyota, LG, GE, and The Home Depot Have the Hearts of the American Consumers When It Comes to Social Values

Today, US consumers have a stronger relationship and affinity to brands with social values and purpose that are perceived as matching their own rather than interacting with brands based on product attributes and offerings alone, according to the new 2022 Corporate Social Value Index Study from the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS).

For the inaugural study, the NYU SPS Division of Programs in Business (DPB) Integrated Marketing & Communications (IMC) team interviewed 2,500 consumers from the US on their opinions of more than 75 different global brands, including Amazon, American Express, Coca-Cola, MasterCard, McDonald’s, Netflix, Nike, Starbucks, and Visa. Major brands coming out on top in terms of a total match between their and their consumers’ social values and product benefits are Toyota, LG, GE, and The Home Depot.

Figure 1 - Leading 10 brands based on the Total Match.

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Figure 2 - Bottom 10 brands based on the Total Match

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The study shows that no matter how much major brands might like to stay out of the US culture and political wars, they cannot avoid taking a long, hard look at the social values their brands stand for and the impact the position they take will have on consumers purchasing decisions. For example, the NYU results show that the strongest positive effect on brand preference is the match between a consumer’s and a brand’s political ideology.

Traditionally, brands have earned customers through simply delivering quality products and offerings. “In today’s market, companies are looking to take a more purpose-driven approach to their businesses, as evidenced by the recent decision of Patagonia’s founder to donate his entire company to fight climate change,” said Michael Diamond, clinical assistant professor in the NYU SPS IMC program, and co-author of the study with Milos Bujisic, clinical associate professor. “A brand’s social value and purpose are now more important than ever in activating a consumer’s sense of value and meaning.  Identifying which of the brand’s values resonate and how they line up with a consumer’s values has become more critical to the work of growing brands with greater consumer loyalty, stronger brand trust, and higher financial returns.”

According to Bujisic, “With the creation of our Corporate Social Value Index, we can help brands find out what their customers care about, help predict the strength of their consumer relationships, and measure loyalty to the brand, among other aspects of customer engagement. This type of information can help senior executives and marketing professionals dramatically transform a business’s mission from a mere company to an organization designed and focused on social good.”

“In Spring 2023, NYU School of Professional Studies will welcome the first cohort into its Executive Master’s in Marketing and Communications designed to address the needs of professionals in marketing and PR on the path to C-Suite leadership,” said Diamond. “This master’s program will help educate them in using innovative and proven tools and research, such as this CSV Index, to help better position their companies and organizations in the marketplace.”

Figure 3 - Consumer Groups based on Ideology in Urban, Suburban and Rural settings

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Figure 4 - Comparison of white and non-white consumers based on conservative, centrist and liberal ideology 

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PR Office Contacts

Michael DeMeo

“Understanding a brand’s purpose and where the company stands on a range of issues is a central driver for how marketing leaders and business executives should be managing and growing their brands. This work from NYU adds to our understanding of what issues matter to customers.”

Jim Stengel - host of The CMO Podcast and former chief marketing officer at Procter & Gamble.

“At a time when a brand’s purpose and a company’s broader role in society is in flux, chief marketing officers need more clarity on whether and how to take a stance on a spectrum of political positions that may impact the brand. The 2022 Corporate Social Value Index sheds light on the brands that consumers value from a purpose-driven perspective.”

Antonio Lucio - senior executive marketing professional who has led marketing for numerous global brands, including Meta, HP, Visa, and Pepsico.

Key Takeaways

  • Brand Social Value Match is a key predictor of Brand Relationship and Brand Reputation

Consumers have a stronger relationship with brands with social values that are perceived as matching their own

  • Product Benefits Match is less important

A match between a consumer’s expectation of product benefits and a brand's offerings does not impact brand relationships as much as a match between social values.

  • US consumers are divided based on social values

US consumers are very divided when it comes to social values depending on their demographic characteristics.

  • Traditional product brands dominate rankings

Toyota, LG, and General Electric are brands that have the highest total match with US consumers

  • Luxury brands have a low overall match with the average consumer

This can be explained by the market positioning of luxury brands. Luxury brands primarily focus on affluent consumers compared to traditional brands like Toyota which target a broader market.