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The Walmart Paradox: Global Retailer Tops List of America's Most and Least Socially Responsible Companies

41% of U.S. consumers cannot name a socially responsible company

Submitted by: BBMG

Categories: Business Ethics, Research, Reports & Publications

Posted: Jul 23, 2009 – 04:41 PM EST


Jul. 23 /CSRwire/ - NEW YORK - Walmart has earned the honor of topping U.S. consumers' lists of both the most and least socially responsible companies, according to the 2009 BBMG Conscious Consumer Report. The finding is sure to validate the mega-retailer's recent moves toward sustainability while also giving critics room to register jabs of still-not-going-far-enough.

When asked unaided which companies come to mind as the most socially or environmentally responsible companies, seven percent (7%) of those surveyed named Walmart, followed by Johnson & Johnson (6%), Procter & Gamble (4%), GE (4%) and Whole Foods (3%).

Walmart also topped the list of the least socially or environmentally responsible companies (9%), along with Exxon Mobile (9%), GM (3%) and Ford (3%), Shell (2%) and McDonald's (2%).

Interestingly, 41% of Americans could not name a single company that they consider the most socially and environmentally responsible.

"For fans of the global retailer, our research underscores all that Walmart has done to become a leader in sustainability, including the recent news that it plans to launch a comprehensive sustainability index for its 60,000 vendors," says Mitch Baranowski, co-founder of branding agency BBMG. "But for many critics, it signals that Walmart's PR machine might be doing its job, getting the word out about positive developments while skirting larger, more complex questions around its big-box carbon footprint or worker issues like sustainable wages and the right to air grievances."

"The fact that four-in-ten Americans cannot name a single company they consider to be the most socially responsible offers an important opportunity for brand leadership," adds Baranowski. "By fully integrating social and environmental practices into brand communications and corporate culture, companies can raise awareness, build equity and inspire consumers to take action that will grow the bottom line while making a positive difference in the world."

For a more in-depth analysis of what BBMG calls "The Walmart Paradox," see the agency's blog post at:

The annual BBMG Conscious Consumer Report explores the attitudes, preferences, values and experiences that shape consumer purchasing behavior, brand loyalty and peer-to-peer influence. Conducted by BBMG, in conjunction with research partners Global Strategy Group and Bagatto, the report combines ethnographic research in two U.S. markets with a national survey of 2,000 adults. The survey margin of error is +/- 2.2 percentage points.

About BBMG: With offices in New York City and San Francisco, BBMG is a nationally-recognized firm dedicated to creating innovative brands that reach, engage and inspire today's increasingly conscious consumers. Recent clients include CLIF Bar, Eileen Fisher, ShoreBank, Ceres, Green America and Social Venture Network. For more information, visit

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