UAE residents world's most generous: new survey

A study of 7,000 consumers worldwide has found that a majority of people living in the Emirates donate to good causes annually

Judging by the tremendous volume of charity-linked mail crossing our desk, we’ve often wondered if we’re simply more in tune with philanthropy here in the Emirates.

Turns out that’s not far off the mark. A new study released this week found that consumers in the UAE donate to good causes annually, topping a cross-section of 13 emerging and developed nations.

Eighty-six per cent of UAE consumers surveyed said they give cash to a good cause at least annually, while another 72 per cent volunteer for a good cause at least once a year.

The online survey, conducted by public relations firm Edelman, polled over 7,000 adults across 13 countries, including the UAE, the US, the UK, Brazil, Canada, India, France, Germany and the Netherlands. It is the first time the UAE has been incorporated into the annual study, which is in its fourth year.

Residents of the Emirates are also more likely to buy or talk about brands linked to good causes, in line with other emerging markets but outpacing more developed Western economies. Seventy-one per cent of UAE consumers – and 77 per cent in Brazil, India, China and Mexico – said an association with a good cause would positively impact their purchasing decisions, as compared to 49 per cent in Western Europe.

More than three quarters of UAE consumers buy brands that support a good cause at least every twelve months – closely following rates in other emerging markets. The UAE was incorporated into the study for the first time.

“Given the deep sense of community in the UAE, it’s not surprising that we see a high level of consumer interest in and action around brands that support social causes,” said Iain Twine, general manager, Edelman UAE. “This goes beyond donating, the UAE consumer is sophisticated and wants to see brands aligned with a good cause.”

In the Emirates, it seems, we take that further: 73 per cent of respondents expect brands to actively support a good cause, well above the two-thirds mark averaged globally.

Fascinatingly, 86 per cent of consumers around the world believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on those of business, and 69 per cent said corporations are uniquely placed to make a positive impact on good causes.

Worldwide, purpose ranked as more important than design and innovation a purchase trigger. And despite the prolonged recession, two-thirds of global consumers – 66 per cent – said they would likely buy and recommend products and services from companies that support a good cause.

“Unique to this market, social purpose outranks price as the number one deciding factor between two brands, after quality, which means aligning with a social cause is no longer optional for brands to thrive in an increasingly competitive space,” Twine added, in what is surely a revelation about what is seen as an extremely price-conscious market.

And when it comes to accountability, consumers are willing to punish companies that show no commitment to good causes. More than a third of consumers globally would punish a company that doesn’t actively support a good cause, by criticising it to others (37 per cent), refusing to buy it’s products (37 per cent), or sharing negative opinions and experiences (38 per cent). In the UAE, 68 per cent of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause.

So what are these causes we care about?

Protecting the environment, not surprisingly, came out as the top cause global consumers care about, followed by improving the quality of healthcare. Globally, 71 per cent of consumers believe that projects that protect and sustain the environment can help grow the economy.

 

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