Most Americans expect companies to make profits, but now they want signs of a conscience, too.
In particular, consumers want firms to get actively involved in social causes, according to a recent survey.
Many companies are doing just that.
Some current examples: Home Depot and housing programs; Avon and breast-cancer awareness; Target stores and education.
For such companies, the reward comes in the form of increased sales, brand reputation, and employee loyalty, according to a nationwide study conducted for Cone Inc., which develops and implements cause marketing for Fortune 500 companies and is a founding member of Businesses for Social Responsibility, a national nonprofit organization.
According to the study, 83 percent of US consumers say they have a more positive image of a company that supports a cause they care about.
Approximately two-thirds of consumers say that if price and quality are equal, they are likely to switch to a brand or retailer associated with a good cause.
The study also found that 8 out of 10 Americans prefer companies to commit to a specific cause for a long period of time rather than focus on many different causes over shorter periods.