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Aflac Survey Says Majority of Consumers Want Companies to 'Take a Stand'

More than 77% of Consumers say they are motivated by Companies' Commitment to Making the World a Better Place

COLUMBUS, Ga., Dec. 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the 2019 Aflac Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, consumers and investors reflect a distinct and growing tendency to increase pressure on  American corporations when it comes to serving the social good. The fifth edition of the Aflac CSR Survey finds, among other things, that consumers and investors expect companies to take a stand, but not the wrong one, and will forgive missteps, but only conditionally. The entire survey can be seen here.

"Over the past 5 years Aflac has conducted an annual corporate social responsibility survey taking on the biggest challenges that corporations face from the #metoo movement to this year's topic, the brands taking stands movement," said Aflac Senior Vice President, Chief Communications and Environmental, Social and Governance Officer Catherine Hernandez-Blades.  "Customers are looking for purpose in the companies with which they will do business, with 55 percent of respondents saying that companies should make their purpose a key component of their overall messaging."

Among the survey's key findings:

  • Over three-quarters (77%) of consumers say they would be motivated to purchase a company's products or services if the company shows they are committed to making the world a better place; 73% of investors (defined as adults who own individual stocks) agree that a company's efforts to help improve society and the environment contribute positively to return on stockholder's investments.
  • 49% of respondents said that it is very important for a company to "make the world a better place", while 37% said it is very important for a business to "make money for its shareholders".
  • Younger (millennial) investors put significantly more effort into researching a company's role in improving society and the environment before deciding to invest — 41% compared to Gen X (27%) or boomers (16%).
  • Fifty-five percent of American consumers say it's important for companies to take a stand on social and political issues, 53% of consumers also say they have stopped using the products of a company because of its public position on some issue, and 48% of investors report they have decided to not invest in a company because of its position on some issue, with 38% having actually sold shares.
  • A surprisingly large majority of consumers (72%) report they are willing to "forgive" a company's bad behavior, either unethical or illegal. Still, many Americans have grown cynical when it comes to judging corporate social behavior, claiming "zero tolerance" when it comes to infractions of ethical corporate codes. This "one strike club" includes 25% of consumers and 22% of investors.

"The results of the Aflac CSR Survey shows why employers should be extremely concerned about how the public perceives their company in terms of corporate responsibility, but an even greater concern is how they are perceived by their own employees," said Dave Armon, CEO of 3BL Media, a leading communication agency for purpose-driven companies. "Employees want to do so much more than take home a paycheck. They want to be proud of who they are working for, which ultimately drives up productivity."

Research findings are based on an online survey fielded in the United States May 3-8, 2019, of 1,691 American adults age 18 and older by Teneo. To ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. population, completed interviews were weighted by five variables: Age, sex, geographic region, race and education. The margin of error for a random sample of 1,691 is +/-2.4%. A separate online survey of 503 investors was conducted May 3-13, 2019. Investors were defined as adults who own individual stocks — those not held in a 401(k) or 403(b) — and have sole or shared responsibility for the decision in the stock purchase. Respondents in both studies were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys.

About Aflac Incorporated
Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) is a Fortune 500 company helping provide protection to more than 50 million people through its subsidiaries in Japan and the U.S., where it is a leading supplemental insurer, by paying cash fast when policyholders get sick or injured. For more than six decades, insurance policies of Aflac Incorporated's subsidiaries have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance in Japan, where it insures 1 in 4 households. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative in the United States, for eligible claims, Aflac can process, approve and electronically send funds to claimants for quick access to cash in just one business day. For 13 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2018, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 20th consecutive year, and in 2019, Fortune included Aflac on its list of World's Most Admired Companies for the 18th time. To find out more about One Day PaySM and learn how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn't cover, get to know us at aflac.com.

Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999.

About 3BL Media
3BL Media  delivers purpose-driven communications for the world's leading companies. Our unrivaled distribution, leadership and editorial platforms inspire and support global sustainable business, reaching 10+ million change-makers. 3BL Forum is an annual gathering of corporate responsibility and sustainability practitioners with an emphasis on networking, case studies, new research and compelling presentations from companies committed to making progress against an ambitious ESG agenda.

Aflac Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Aflac)

Media contact: Jon Sullivan, 706.763.4813 or jsullivan@aflac.com

Analyst and investor contact:  David A. Young, 706.596.3264, 800.235.2667 or dyoung@aflac.com

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