CorpSumers: A growing, and loyal, consumer segment that cares about company conduct

More consumers are researching or considering company conduct before they buy or invest. (Getty/AntonioGuillem)

Nearly 100 million Americans look to corporate reputation to determine not only the products they buy but also the companies they invest in, do business with, and work for, according to survey results released on July 17 by. MWWPR, a New York City-based public relations firm.

The study, conducted on behalf of MMWPR by Manhattan-based Wakefield Research, calls this “significant, growing segment of the population,” representing about one-third of the U.S. population, the CorpSumers.

CorpSumers are not as concerned with product attributes and price as they are with how a company conducts itself, according to a July 15 report by Forbes Magazine. More than just saying that company reputation is important (like 75% of Americans), the CorpSumers act on it.

They go beyond brand advocacy to brand activism, whether for a company, or against.

From a psychographic perspective, MWW says, CorpSumers are optimistic and highly engaged. They are interested in knowing about the firms they buy from and believe they can be positive change agents. In fact, 53% percent say that a company has a greater ability to make positive change in the world than the government.

What’s more, they are incredibly loyal: They ”stick” to  companies that they believe in (51%) even if they find a specific product to be disappointing. And they spread word of mouth about the companies they prefer on social media (50%).

The CorpSumer segment is significant from a simple sales- and market-share perspective, but their true value is in their influence over others and their ability to make change, move attitudes and markets, Forbes reported. Part advocate and part objector, CorpSumers are the "influencers next door" whose brand activism changes the opinions and behaviors of their friends and families.

"At MWWPR we have always believed that corporate reputation and consumer brand loyalty go hand in hand. This research does more than simply prove that theory; it demonstrates the profound significance of this segment to drive business," said MWWPR Chair of Reputation and Chief Strategy Officer Carreen Winters in a company statement. "CorpSumers are market makers and market movers—they vote with their wallets, their investment portfolios, and their careers.

“Companies that effectively harness the power of CorpSumers will outpace the competition in market share, brand loyalty, activism. and amplification," Winters predicted.

CorpSumers who responded to the survey said that their interest in a company's reputation and values guided their decision-making across all sectors and industries, including automakers, financial services, healthcare; and food services—both for in-home consumption and dining out.

And their loyalty pays off, literally. Sixty-seven percent of CorpSumers are willing to pay full price for a product when they believe in the company.

"CorpSumers are the modern equivalent of the reputation goodwill bank, but with exponentially more influence, demonstrating product and brand loyalty in the face of a problem or dissatisfaction with a particular product or service experience," said Michelle Gordon, MWWPR senior vice president of Research and Insights.