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Stress of Current Events Is Generating Apathy Among Americans Says Fifth Annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index (#CCSIndex)

Optimistic Consumers More Socially Responsible but In the Minority, Charlotte Named Most Socially Responsible City, Red Cross Tops Good Company Poll

Stress of Current Events Is Generating Apathy Among Americans Says Fifth Annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index (#CCSIndex)

Optimistic Consumers More Socially Responsible but In the Minority, Charlotte Named Most Socially Responsible City, Red Cross Tops Good Company Poll

Published 11-08-17

Submitted by Good.Must.Grow.

5th Annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index

Nearly half of Americans (47%) believe the world is becoming a worse place to live, according to the fifth annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index (#CCSIndex). In total, 1,019 Americans were polled this year for the ongoing benchmarking study, which is conducted by Good.Must.Grow. (GmG), a socially responsible marketing consultancy.

The 2017 study found that Americans’ outlook on the state of the world has an impact on their socially responsible actions. Those with a negative outlook were less likely to purchase products from social enterprises or “do good” companies, less likely to donate time and money to nonprofits and less likely to report being green in the past year.

Those with a neutral outlook were the least engaged. Individuals who said the world was about the same were 19 percent less likely to support socially responsible companies, 16 percent less likely to financially support a charity and 16 percent less likely to volunteer, than those with a positive outlook.

Almost 30 percent of consumers said they don’t pay attention to whether they are shopping responsibly. Meanwhile, 40 percent of consumers said the biggest factor preventing them from being more socially responsible was an inability to determine which companies to support.

“I remain incredibly excited about the state of socially responsible spending in this country, but we do need address the obstacles of awareness and apathy that are momentarily slowing our opportunities for growth in this area,” said Heath Shackleford, founder of Good.Must.Grow. “We’ve endured a lot as a society this year: political unrest, natural disasters and unspeakable tragedies. It’s more important than ever for business to be a force for good. Fortunately, we see the demand from consumers. We feel the energy. Good is continuing to grow. We just need to continue feeding the movement.”

Despite the prevailing pessimism among Americans, the 2017 #CCSIndex showed a slight rebound from 46 to 47 on a 100-point scale after experiencing the first drop in its history in 2016. The #CCSIndex score is calculated by evaluating the importance consumers place on purchasing from socially responsible companies, actions taken to support such products and services, and future intent to increase the amount they spend with responsible organizations.

In total, 30 percent of Americans are planning to spend more with companies who are socially responsible in the year ahead. Meanwhile, 61 percent confirmed the importance of buying from socially responsible companies, and 61 percent reported making purchases from socially responsible companies, while 27 percent of Americans report directing at least 50 percent of their purchases toward socially responsible products and services.

“It is encouraging to see an uptick versus a dip, but there’s still work to be done,” said Shackleford. “There is a core group of consumers who have raised their hands but not yet taken action. We have to figure out how to shift them out of neutral if we want to drive the level of change that is required.”

In addition to the core benchmarking study, this year’s #CCSIndex also featured a separate analysis of the top 50 DMAs across the United States. A sampling of 5,096 Americans was used to identify the country’s most socially responsible big cities. The study analyzed responses to a battery of questions focused on purchasing habits, nonprofit giving and environmental practices.

Charlotte came out on top as America’s most socially responsible city. Long Beach, Oakland, Virginia Beach and Seattle rounded out the top five. In specific categories, Long Beach ranked highest for earth friendly practices and had the most conscious consumers, while Virginia Beach was the nation’s most charitable big city. Charlotte’s second place finish in all three categories propelled it to the top spot overall.

America’s Most Socially Responsible Big Cities


  1. Charlotte
  2. Long Beach
  3. Oakland
  4. Virginia Beach
  5. Seattle
  6. Kansas City
  7. Boston
  8. Atlanta
  9. Minneapolis
  10. San Antonio
  11. Chicago
  12. Raleigh
  13. Louisville
  14. New Orleans
  15. San Jose
  16. Dallas
  17. Denver
  18. Austin
  19. Washington DC
  20. Sacramento
  21. Colorado Springs
  22. Cleveland
  23. Los Angeles
  24. San Francisco
  25. Columbus
  26. Houston
  27. Phoenix
  28. Las Vegas
  29. Omaha
  30. Indianapolis
  31. Memphis
  32. Wichita
  33. Miami
  34. Tucson
  35. Milwaukee
  36. Oklahoma City
  37. San Diego
  38. New York
  39. Portland
  40. Mesa
  41. Philadelphia
  42. Tulsa
  43. Baltimore
  44. Nashville
  45. Jacksonville
  46. Detroit
  47. Fort Worth
  48. Fresno
  49. El Paso
  50. Albuquerque


Top 20 Good Company Poll

This year marked the #CCSIndex’s third annual top 20 “Good Company” poll, compiled by responses to the question, “What company or organization do you think of first when you think of socially responsible companies/organizations?” Based on unaided recall by respondents, organizations were ranked based on how frequently they were named.

For the first time in three years, TOMS was not the top vote getter, falling to number seven. The American Red Cross headlines this year’s rankings. Walmart surged to number two, while Amazon climbed nine spots to crack the top ten, after entering the poll at number in 2016. For the third-straight year, almost one-third of respondents (30%) failed to name a socially responsible organization.

Rankings are as follows:


  1. Red Cross
  2. Walmart
  3. Google
  4. Goodwill
  5. Starbucks
  6. Whole Foods
  7. TOMS
  8. Salvation Army
  9. Amazon
  10. Microsoft
  11. Ben & Jerry's
  12. Apple
  13. United Way
  14. Trader Joes
  15. Facebook
  16. Costco
  17. Greenpeace
  18. Honest Co
  19. Target
  20. Newman's Own


Additional Findings

  • Americans continue to rank individuals as more effective in creating positive change in our society than nonprofits, social enterprises or major corporations. The least effective entity, according to respondents, was the federal government.  Only 38 percent rated the government as effective in driving change, down from 43 percent in 2016. 

  • This year’s index study saw a slight uptick in charitable engagement over 2016 with more people contributing financially to charities (63%), volunteering time to charities (42%) and donating clothes or household goods (80%). Despite the increase, nonprofits are still seeing a reduction in contributions of time and money within the last three years.

  • People are more likely to use personal research (32%), product packaging (29%) and news reports (27%) to determine which organizations are socially responsible as compared to family and friends (19%) social media (15%) and influencers (10%).

 About the Study

This study was conducted in partnership with Supportive Research Solutions and What They Think Research. Sampling was provided by Research Now. Data was collected Oct 4–12, 2017. In total, 1,019 Americans were surveyed for the annual index comparisons (margin of error is +/-3%). An additional 5,096 surveys were fielded across the top-50 DMAs for the first annual top 50 socially responsible cities analysis. For more information on the Conscious Consumer Spending Index, please visit

About Good.Must.Grow.

Good.Must.Grow. provides strategic marketing support for socially responsible businesses, nonprofit causes and organizations that are focused on health + wellness. We want to be part of a revolution that drives societal change by sparking increased charitable giving and community involvement as well as unprecedented levels of corporate social responsibility. Proud to be a Certified B Corp. See how we’re #GrowingGood at

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At Good.Must.Grow. we provide strategic marketing support for socially responsible businesses, nonprofit causes and organizations that are committed to making our world a healthier place. Learn how we are #GrowingGood at

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